The New York Yankees (0-0) will travel to the Sunshine State to open up their 2012 season against the Tampa Bay Rays (0-0) on Friday afternoon inside Tropicana Field
New York Yankees at Tampa Bay Rays
New York will open its 110th season in franchise history on Friday and will play a balanced schedule over its first two months, combining to play 25 home and 26 road games over that span. The Yankees concluded their 33-game Grapefruit League schedule with an 18-12-3 record, marking their best spring record since going 24-10-1 in their World Series-winning season of 2009. Third baseman Alex Rodriguez hit .300 with two home runs and 14 RBI. New York is 11-23 in its last 34 Friday games.
Yankees starting pitcher CC Sabathia finished last year with a 19-8 record and 3.00 ERA, which included a sparkling 18-4 mark and 2.49 ERA when facing all teams other than the Boston Red Sox. The left-hander was 11-5 with a 2.93 ERA in 17 road starts a year ago, tying Philadelphia Phillies ace Roy Halladay for MLB’s second-most road wins, as Detroit’s Justin Verlander led all pitchers in that category with 14 wins. Sabathia has registered a 9-7 record and 3.10 ERA in 24 career starts versus the Rays, but has won just two of 13 starts since becoming a Yankee prior to 2009.
Tampa Bay managed to split 18 meetings with New York a year ago, winning six of nine meetings in the Sunshine State. The Rays are coming off a season that saw them capture the AL Wild Card, but it has turned over nearly half its lineup since last year. Third baseman Evan Longoria will need to carry the lineup over the first couple weeks, as regular outfielder B.J. Upton starts the season on the 15-day disabled list with a back injury. Tampa Bay is 32-18 in April the last two years.
Rays starting pitcher James Shields posted a 16-12 record and 2.82 ERA in 33 starts last season. The right-hander was 9-5 with a 2.36 ERA in 17 home starts in 2011, as opponents hit just .218 against him. Shields will be making his 21st career start versus the Yankees, coming in with a losing 5-11 mark and 4.14 ERA. He was 2-3 with a 2.33 ERA in five outings in this series a year ago, as he allowed just four home runs in 38 2/3 innings.
Bettors will likely back the Rays due to their 7-0 record in Shields last seven home starts, while the Yankees are 0-4 in their last four games in Tampa Bay.
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