Fri Apr 16 2:37am ET
While there will be attention on a hostile rivalry involving inside pitches and hit batters, the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays are also focused on reversing their slow starts.
The rivalry resumes Friday night when the Yankees host the Rays in the opener of a three-game series.
It will be Tampa Bay's first appearance in the Bronx since Mike Brosseau homered twice on Sept. 2 -- a night after Aroldis Chapman threw up and in on the infielder in an empty stadium, a pitch that later prompted a two-game suspension.
Chapman's 101 mph pitch near Brosseau's head prompted harsh words that included manager Kevin Cash saying "he had a whole damn stable of guys who throw 98 miles per hour."
A little over a month later, the Rays ended New York's season in Game 5 of the American League Division Series after Brosseau hit an eighth-inning, tiebreaking homer off Chapman. It also continued the one-sided nature of the rivalry tilting in favor of Tampa Bay.
Tampa Bay took two of three against New York last weekend in St. Petersburg. Since July 18, 2019 -- the date of Aaron Boone's "savages in the box" rant to plate umpire Brennan Miller in the first game of a doubleheader -- the Rays are 12-3 in the past 15 regular-season meetings and 15-5 including their ALDS win.
From 2015 through the doubleheader featuring Boone's rant, the Yankees went 57-36 against the Rays, who outscored the Yankees 14-5 in the first two games last weekend.
During last weekend's series, there were five players hit by pitches a total of six times -- Gary Sanchez and Aaron Hicks for New York, Austin Meadows (twice), Joey Wendle and Mike Zunino for Tampa Bay. Since the start of the 2018 season, 24 of the 40 hit batters in regular-season games between the teams were Rays.
"With the history, it's frustrating, very frustrating," Rays outfielder Kevin Kiermaier said Monday, per the Tampa Bay Times. "We'll see where it goes from here. But I don't think that was a very good look on their part and we have (the) right to be very frustrated about what happened throughout the weekend."
The Yankees are coming off a 2-4 road trip and have dropped five of their past seven games. They dropped two of three to the Toronto Blue Jays in Dunedin, Fla., and took a 5-4 loss Wednesday when Chad Green allowed a homer to Bo Bichette in the ninth inning.
"I know we hit a few guys in the last series," Boone said. "I get their frustration with that, but that's not for us to get caught up into right now. We've got to go out and play good baseball."
Tampa Bay is 3-8 in its past 11 games and enters the series on a three-game losing streak after taking a 6-4, 10-inning home loss to the Texas Rangers on Thursday. The Rays were outscored 19-8 in the final three games against Texas and they stranded 12 baserunners while going 3-for-13 with runners in scoring position Thursday.
The Yankees did not officially announce a starter for Friday and are pushing back their regular starters an extra day. They could start Michael King, who pitched six scoreless innings in relief of Domingo German on Sunday before being sent to the alternate site.
Michael Wacha will start for Tampa Bay and face the Yankees for the second straight time. He followed Brent Honeywell Jr. on Sunday and allowed three runs in four innings.
Wacha is 0-1 with a 5.85 ERA in four career appearances (three starts) against New York.
--Field Level Media