SAN DIEGO, Calif. - The Tampa Bay Rays may get All-Star outfielder Austin Meadows back in the lineup as they open a best-of-five series with the rival New York Yankees. Meadows has been out since Sept. 18 with a left oblique strain. Manager Kevin Cash said the 25-year-old is “in a pretty good spot” but wouldn’t say whether Meadows would be on the team’s ALDS roster.
“We want to make sure that he’s running good and that the timing is as good as possible for us to make a decision,” Cash said.
Meadows’ left-handed bat would be a welcome addition as Tampa Bay prepares to face right-handed ace Gerrit Cole in the opener. Cole allowed nine earned runs in 16 1/3 innings over three starts against the Rays this season, with Meadows out of the lineup for two of them.
Blake Snell will get the ball in Game 1 for the Rays. He’s 4-6 with a 4.31 ERA in 18 career starts against New York, struggling especially at Yankee Stadium.
After losing eight of 10 games in a contentious regular-season series, the New York Yankees just can’t shake the AL East rival Tampa Bay Rays.
Not only will the Bronx Bombers face the Rays in the AL Division Series at Petco Park in one of MLB’s bubbles, but the teams that have a recent history of throwing at each others’ hitters are sharing the same resort hotel in northern San Diego County.
Outfielder Brett Gardner said he’s cordial when he passes Rays players at the hotel.
“Obviously it’s not ideal but it’s the cards that we’ve been dealt and I feel we’ve got a group of guys that’s very professional and just business as usual.”
Rays outfielder Kevin Kiermaier minced no words when he said: “They don’t like us, we don’t like them, and it’s going to continue to stay that way.”
Responded Gardner: “I think the feeling’s probably mutual.”
Game 1 is Monday night, when Yankees ace Gerrit Cole — a Southern California native — opposes Blake Snell, the 2018 AL Cy Young Award winner.
“They got the best of us this year, arguably the best team in baseball,” Gardner said of the Rays, the AL’s top seed. “They had a really good season, ran away with the division. Obviously it’s up to us to come out and play better against these guys.”
Snell said he’s not concentrating on the hard feelings between these teams in recent seasons.
“I just know they’re a very talented team that I’m looking forward to facing,” Snell said.