Yankees-Rays Heavyweight Series Starts Monday And There Will Be Bad Blood

First pitch of Yankees-Rays is set for Monday at 8:07 ET in San Diego and we can’t wait. Most sporting events in this era can be described as “buddy ball,” but not this one. These two teams, besides being the two favorites in the American League, more importantly HATE each other.

“We don’t like them. They don’t like us,” Rays outfielder Kevin Kiermaier said.

In the age of social media, 99% of interviews leading into a series can be described as boring if we’re being generous. Listening to “We’re going to go out and do our best, they’re a great team and they work hard” is virtual Ambien, but it’s refreshing to FINALLY have something authentic.

Preview

The Yankees have Gerrit Cole slated for Game 1 and that has potential for trouble. Cole usually dominates September and October baseball, but his struggles against the Rays are well documented. Rays first baseman/designated hitter Ji-Man Choi is the boogie man in Gerrit Cole’s nightmare as he’s put together great at-bats over the course of this season and he’ll likely be an irritant in this series.

Tampa pencils in a cast of guys who put the ball in play and like manager Kevin Cash said earlier this year, they can throw. Hard.

That pitching staff had the second-best ERA in baseball and that’s the type of production they’ll need against New York’s offense. The Yanks bats took a step back this year, due to health, and still struggles to put balls in play against velocity. Tampa will be testing the Yankees ability to make an adjustment all series and it makes for great baseball.

Commissioner Rob Manfred couldn’t have asked for better Division Series matchups where teams will have more to play for than usual. If Gerrit Cole wants to make that 9-year, $324 million contract worth it, he can start by dominating Monday night.

As MLB’s Twitter account brilliantly put it: Get your popcorn ready.

Written by Gary Sheffield, Jr

Gary Sheffield Jr is the son of should-be MLB Hall of Famer, Gary Sheffield. He covers basketball and baseball for OutKick.com, chats with the Purple and Gold faithful on LakersNation, and shitposts on Twitter. You can follow him at GarySheffieldJr

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