In 44 games, the 2022 New York Yankees have played the Baltimore Orioles 13 times and after last night, are 9-4 against them. So, for the next 118 games, the Pinstripes and the O's will only face off another 6 times. Good for Baltimore, bad for the Bombers. Thursday, the Yankees and their most dominant opponent in the American League East over the past few years, the Tampa Bay Rays, will face-off in the first of 19 battles this season.

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It's early but this series could make a statement for either team. Good news for Yankees fans, Aaron Boone's team has a better winning percentage over the rest of the league, than they do against the Orioles. Plus, the Bronx Bombers have already gone 5-3 against the predicted favorites in the East, the Toronto Blue Jays.

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The Yankees are getting amazing starting pitching performances that have catapulted them to third in the MLB in pitching. Led by an early explosive season by Aaron Judge, it is no surprise that the Boone's well balanced squad is 4th in the league in hitting. That's a formula for staying on top in your division. The next step? Beat the Tampa Bay Rays.

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I'm not really sure why people keep counting out the Tampa Bay Rays, I guess it's their total team salary for the season, $86 million, which ranks them 25th out of 30 MLB teams. The Yankees are 3rd at $247 million, in case you were curious. Once again the Rays are playing .600 winning percentage baseball and are on the heels of the 1st place Yankees, 4.5 games back going into Thursday's game.

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Tampa Bay's line-up is full of love-the-big-moment players like Randy Arozarena, Kevin Kiermaier and Brandon Lowe. The Rays' young shortstop, Wander Franco is as dynamic of a baseball player as they come. It comes as no surprise that the Rays are ranked 5th in the league in pitching. The team fully expects the return of right-hander Tyler Glasnow around the All Star break.

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If Aaron Boone can navigate his injury-ridden squad to a split or better in Tampa this weekend, that would be a huge victory for New York. With the recent additions of Aroldis Chapman, Giancarlo Stanton, Jonathan Loáisiga and Chad Green to the injured list, along with a banged up DJ LeMahieu and a "sick with the flu," Josh Donaldson, Boone will be challenged with some rough waters on the gulf coast of Florida this weekend. The Yankees manager has his work cut out against talented Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash and friend of The Drive with Charlie & Dan, Rays bench coach and Bethlehem, NY native Matt Quatraro. Aaron Boone just needs to keep his beleaguered team afloat through Memorial Day weekend.

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