MLB

Yankees-Rays Preview

Amid one of his best stretches, Nathan Eovaldi no longer needs to rely on his blazing fastball while trusting his other pitches.

The right-hander has won a career-best four straight starts going in the New York Yankees' decisive series finale Sunday against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field.

Eovaldi (5-2, 3.95 ERA) is among the major league leaders with a fastball averaging 96.9 mph. Blowing hitters away was important to Eovaldi for most of his career, but lately he has learned to have faith in the rest of his repertoire.

"I think the days that he pitches well (happen) when he mixes (his pitches)," manager Joe Girardi told MLB's official website. "You can't just rely on (the) fastball in this league, because guys will catch up and make adjustments."

Since going 1-2 with a 5.46 ERA in his first five starts, Eovaldi has a 2.16 ERA while winning the last four. He allowed two hits in six-plus innings of a 6-0 victory over Toronto on Tuesday.

"Something's working," catcher Andy Romine said. "When you talk to the guy, it's whatever you need to throw to get a guy out is what we're going to throw.

"I know people are saying he throws 100 and stuff like that, but I think he's just (thinking) along the lines of, 'Let's get everybody out and let's do it quick.'"

Eovaldi hopes to fare batter this year against the Rays (22-25) after posting a 4.97 ERA in losing both 2015 matchups.

He will try to give New York (23-25) more of a chance than Michael Pineda did while yielding six runs and nine hits in 3 2/3 innings of Saturday's 9-5 defeat.

Hank Conger had a three-run homer for one of his three hits and Evan Longoria belted a two-run shot as Tampa Bay snapped a three-game losing streak to win for the second time in eight contests.

The Rays also matched their run total from the previous four games.

"This is what we're capable of,'' Longoria said. ''We've shown it in spurts. The thing for us is continue to believe we're capable of afternoons like (Saturday).''

Longoria's two hits Saturday matched his total over 19 at-bats from his previous five games.

Jake Odorizzi (2-2, 3.46) has allowed two runs while winning his last two starts but completed only five innings in each and walked a combined seven. The right-hander overcame three walks by yielding only two hits and fanning seven during a scoreless effort in Tuesday's 4-3 victory at Miami.

Despite failing to reach the sixth inning for a third consecutive start, Odorizzi was pleased with his overall effort earlier this week.

"The way I felt after five innings, regardless of the pitch count, I felt like my stuff didn't drop off from pitch 1 to 107," he said.

Odorizzi, 3-4 with a 5.40 ERA in eight starts against the Yankees, pitches at home for the first time since allowing five runs on three homers in four innings of a 6-3 loss to Oakland on May 13.

Brian McCann is 12 for 20 with three home runs, three doubles and a triple against him. McCann, though, is hitless over 12 at-bats in four games and 2 for 24 in his last seven.

Carlos Beltran is 2 for 12 against Odorizzi, but he's homered in back-to-back games and four times while recording 12 RBIs in his last nine.

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