Returning to form, Rays out to add to Yanks' woes

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Jul 16, 2023; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Zach Eflin (24) delivers a pitch against the Kansas City Royals prior to a game at Kauffman Stadium.
Jul 16, 2023; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Zach Eflin (24) delivers a pitch against the Kansas City Royals prior to a game at Kauffman Stadium.
Image: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

In their final game of July, the Tampa Bay Rays resembled the group that won their first 13 games and dominated the opening weeks of the season

Coming off a pair of relatively stress-free victories, the Rays seek their third straight win on Tuesday night when they visit the struggling New York Yankees for the middle game of a three-game series


After clinching their series against the Houston Astros with an 8-2 win, the Rays opened their third series against the Yankees by hitting four homers in Monday's 5-1 victory. Brandon Lowe hit a two-run homer and Wander Franco went deep before Isaac Paredes and Josh Lowe hit back-to-back blasts in the fourth

"It's a 162-game season. Guys get tired. And with a group like this, we all kind of just got tired at the same time. But it's time to pick it up again," said Josh Lowe, who has three homers and nine RBIs in his past five games against the Yankees. "I think we all realized that we're getting down to the wire here a little bit, and it's time to put it into gear and get to playing some good baseball.


While the Rays may be starting to heat up, the Yankees are still looking like the team who struggled immensely at times during most of Aaron Judge's 42-game absence because of a fractured ligament in his right toe

Judge walked three times and the Yankees were held to three hits on Monday. New York also struck out 12 times a night after it struck out 18 times in a 9-3 loss at Baltimore

The Yankees head into their first game after Tuesday's trade deadline passes with 13 losses in their last 20 games. As of late Monday night, the Yankees had not made any trades, but it is possible they could add an outfielder or move some of their impending free agents

"I want to win," Judge said. "Whatever gets us closer to being a better team and winning, that's why I'm here. That's why everybody in this room is here, we want to win. I don't know what's going to happen. It's out of our control but the bottom line is I came here to win just like a lot of other guys and that's what we got to focus on.


Zach Eflin (11-6, 3.64 ERA), who has tied a career high in victories, will start on Tuesday much to the relief of the Rays. Eflin exited his start last Wednesday against the Miami Marlins due to left knee discomfort after allowing five runs in four innings but avoided an injured list stint and was cleared to start

The right-hander is 2-0 with a 2.12 ERA in three career starts against the Yankees. He earned the win on May 14 in New York when he allowed four runs on seven hits over six innings in Tampa Bay's 8-7 victory


Carlos Rodon (1-3, 5.75) makes his fifth start since returning from a lengthy IL stint due to a forearm injury and subsequent back ailment. After losing his first three outings, Rodon allowed one run on four hits in 5 2/3 innings in a 3-1 win over the Mets last Wednesday

Rodon is 0-1 with a 4.19 ERA in four career starts against the Rays

--Field Level Medi