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Yankees vs Rays Game Preview: Yanks hope third time's a charm for Tanaka

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The Yanks look to secure their first series win of the year in tonight's middle game against the Rays.

Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

After taking a single game from each of their first three series, the Yankees will look to lock down their first series victory of the season tonight at Tropicana Field. They'll have their work cut out for them, though, as the struggling Masahiro Tanaka goes up against the Rays' Jake Odorizzi, who's been nothing short of dominant in his first two starts of the season. Odorizzi, the 25-year-old righty, has an posted an absurd WHIP of 0.477 in his first 14.2 innings of work in 2015. Of the current Yankees squad, Jacoby Ellsbury and Brian McCann have the most experience against Odorizzi. Ellsbury is 3-for-11, and McCann is 5-for-10 with two homers.

Tanaka, as we all know, hasn't been the pitcher we'd hoped he'd be thus far, sporting an ERA of 7.00 in 9 innings of work. These struggles were not unforeseen, however, and many have attributed his early woes to his limited spring training. After an 82-pitch outing on Opening Day, he got up to 97 pitches in his last start, so one would assume his arm strength is nearing where he needs it to be. The biggest key for him will be to avoid giving up that one big inning, which is what plagued him in his first two starts. In Tanaka's lone start against Tampa last season, he picked up a win, giving up 3 runs on 8 hits and striking out 5 in 7 innings of work.

Brett Gardner will be back in the starting lineup, and Alex Rodriguez will be hitting third after providing the bulk of the Yankees' offense last night. First pitch is set for 7:10, and can be seen on Fox Sports 1.

Today's Lineups

NEW YORK YANKEES TAMPA BAY RAYS
Jacoby Ellsbury - CF David DeJesus - DH
Brett Gardner - LF Steven Souza - RF
Alex Rodriguez - DH Asdrubal Cabrera - SS
Mark Teixeira - 1B Evan Longoria - 3B
Brian McCann - C Desmond Jennings - CF
Chris Young - RF Allan Dykstra - 1B
Chase Headley - 3B Logan Forsythe - 2B
Stephen Drew - SS Brandon Guyer - LF
Gregorio Petit - 2B Rene Rivera - C
Masahiro Tanaka - RHP Jake Odorizzi - RHP