Trying Offseason

It's been a long offseason for Andy Pettitte.

The veteran left-hander hopes to further the process of leaving his admission of HGH usage further behind as the New York Yankees continue their three-game series against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Oddsmakers from have made New York -205 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for tonight's game, the over/under has been set at 9.5 total runs (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 60% of bets for this game have been placed on New York -205 (View MLB Bet Percentages).

Pettitte (15-9, 4.05 ERA) had a tumultuous offseason after being included in baseball's Mitchell Report in December. Shortly after his name was made public among those who used performance-enhancing drugs, Pettitte confirmed Brian McNamee's claim he used HGH on two separate occasions in 2002 as part of his recovery from an injury.

Additionally, Pettitte provided an affidavit for a House committee that admitted his HGH usage again in 2004 and also claimed former teammate Roger Clemens told him the 300-game winner received HGH injections in either 1999 or 2000, a claim Clemens emphatically denied at a Congressional hearing while testifying along with McNamee.

Pettitte took a small step back to normalcy Opening Day, when he received a mostly warm welcome Monday from Yankees fans when they announced the teams prior to the game being rained out. The left-hander, who arrived at spring training late, was placed on the disabled list with back spasms in late March.

"The fans have always loved Andy,'' Yankees general partner Hank Steinbrenner said after New York's 3-2 win. "They always will.''

Yankees fans have usually loved Pettitte after he pitches against the Rays (2-1), compiling a 13-2 record and 3.53 ERA in 20 starts and 21 overall appearances. He went 2-1 with a 5.32 ERA in four starts last season versus Tampa, but his Sept. 2 loss snapped a personal 12-game winning streak over the Rays.

The 201-game winner is 6-1 with a 3.86 ERA in 10 starts and 11 lifetime appearances at Yankee Stadium versus them.

Tampa opened the series Friday with a 13-4 rout, pounding out 15 hits and taking control with a seven-run eighth. Shawn Riggans had a three-run double and Carlos Pena added a three-run homer in the eighth-inning rally for the Rays, who had just 17 hits in their first two games.

The win came with a price, though, as catcher Dioner Navarro cut his middle and ring fingers of his right hand slipping on the dugout steps in the third inning and was placed on the 15-day DL after the game.

``It was freaky,'' Rays manager Joe Maddon said of Navarro's injury. ``I think he grabbed on the net and cut the inside of his hand. I didn't even want to look at it."

Rays scheduled starter Edwin Jackson (5-15, 5.76) took his lumps in his first full season as a starter in 2007, but the 24-year-old was also a victim of poor offensive support as Tampa scored four or more runs just eight times in his 31 starts.

Jackson was only 2-7 on the road in 2007, but one of those victories came at Yankee Stadium on July 20, when he scattered four hits and four walks in six scoreless innings of a 14-4 rout. He is 1-1 with a 5.66 ERA in three starts and seven overall games against the Rays.

Manager Joe Girardi should be back for this game after missing Friday's contest due to an upper respiratory infection. But he will not have the services of starting outfielder Melky Cabrera, who will serve the second of his two-game suspension for his role in a spring training brawl against the Rays.

Yankees reserve Shelley Duncan, who had his suspension reduced from three game to two for his part, will begin serving his ban Sunday.

Jonny Gomes should be back in the Rays' lineup after serving his one-game suspension Friday from the incident.

"I just work here, they make decisions," Gomes told the Rays' official Web site before the game. "I'm fine with it. You know. Whatever happens, happens from the decision I decided to make during Spring Training."

Gomes, though, is just 2-for-12 with eight strikeouts lifetime against Pettitte.

Here are some top trends for today's matchup:

-TAMPA BAY is 50-115 (-39.2 Units) against the money line in road games over the last 3 seasons.

-NY YANKEES are 11-17 (-15.8 Units) against the money line when playing on Friday over the last 2 seasons.

-TAMPA BAY is 30-80 (-35.6 Units) against the money line in road games in night games over the last 3 seasons.

by: Dave Michaels - – Email Us

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