The New York Yankees have dropped eight straight at Tropicana Field but have to like their chances in their next matchup there against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Ivan Nova has won 12 straight road decisions and has never lost to the Rays while James Shields has historically struggled against the Yankees as these AL East rivals continue a three-game set Tuesday night.Although Nova (9-2, 4.03 ERA) and Shields (7-5, 4.04) have nearly identical ERAs, this matchup seems to favor New York (48-31).Nova is 12-0 with a 3.17 ERA in his last 16 road outings, going 6-0 with a 3.44 ERA in eight this year. He's also 5-0 with a 2.37 ERA in his last seven starts overall, yielding one run over 7 1/3 innings Thursday in a 4-3 home defeat to the White Sox.The Yankees have won all six starts by Nova against the Rays (42-38), with the right-hander going 4-0 with a 2.82 ERA. That includes a 2-0 mark and 1.80 ERA in two this year.Shields, meanwhile, is 5-13 with a 4.55 ERA in 23 starts against the Yankees, who have beaten him more than any team. He's 0-2 with a 7.88 ERA in three outings this year, with Robinson Cano going 5 for 8 with two doubles against him in those games.Cano is a .415 hitter against the right-hander, who has enjoyed much better success against Curtis Granderson (5 for 52 with 14 strikeouts) and Mark Teixeira (6 for 48 with 15). Only Boston's Josh Beckett has struck out Teixeira more.Granderson is 5 for 41 in the season series and Teixeira 5 for 32. Tampa Bay has won six of 10.Shields fell to 0-3 with a 3.89 ERA in his last five home starts after allowing four runs and a career-high 14 hits over 7 2/3 innings Thursday in a 5-2 loss to Detroit."You can compete all you want, and you can go deep into the game all you want," Shields said. "But the bottom line is you lost the game. I've got to do a better job."Numerous Tampa Bay hitters have a poor history against Nova, including B.J. Upton (3 for 17), Ben Zobrist (2 for 13) and Carlos Pena (1 for 9).Outfielder Hideki Matsui is 0 for 3 against Nova, but the 2009 World Series MVP with the Yankees may not be available. Matsui left Monday's 4-3 victory with left hamstring tightness.Teixeira's first error in 671 chances this year allowed Brooks Conrad to score the eventual winning run in the seventh inning. Conrad had tied the game with a pinch-hit RBI double before Teixeira misplayed Elliot Johnson's sharp grounder."The ball, obviously, didn't do what I expected it to do," Teixeira said. "It's very tough. I take a lot of pride in saving runs for our team, but I gave one back tonight."Tampa Bay is enjoying its longest home win streak in history over New York. This one came at a much-needed time with the Rays entering the series as losers of six of seven.Upton and Pena homered and Matt Moore pitched seven innings for the victory. The Rays' four home wins over the Yankees this year have been by a combined seven runs.