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American League Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, April 7th (All times Eastern)
New York Yankees (0-1) at Tampa Bay Rays (1-0), 7:10 p.m.
Probable Starting Pitchers: New York - Hiroki Kuroda (0-0, 0.00) Tampa Bay - David Price (0-0, 0.00)
(Sports Network) - The Tampa Bay Rays try to follow up a thrilling Opening Day win this evening when they host the New York Yankees in the middle contest of a three-game set from Tropicana Field.
After Evan Longoria sent Tampa Bay into the postseason on the final day of last year's regular season, the Rays kicked off 2012 with another dramatic come-from-behind victory over the Yankees.
Carlos Pena, who launched a grand slam in his first at-bat since rejoining Tampa Bay, singled in the game-winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning as the Rays pulled out a 7-6 win.
"This energy that we got going and things like this happen, I don't think it's a coincidence, it's actually a consequence of how tight we are and how hard we pull for each other," said Pena, who was 3-for-5 with five RBI.
Fernando Rodney (1-0) tossed a 1-2-3 ninth for the Rays, who used Boston's monumental September collapse to sneak into the postseason last year as the wild-card.
They rallied from a 7-0, eighth-inning deficit in the 162nd game last season to beat the Yankees 8-7 in 12 innings. Longoria, who went 3-for-3 with two runs scored and an RBI on Friday, laced the game-winning home run in that one.
Trailing 6-5 heading into the home half of the ninth against all-time saves leader Mariano Rivera, Desmond Jennings began the frame with a single up the middle and Ben Zobrist followed with a game- tying triple into the right-field gap.
After the Yankees intentionally walked both Longoria and Luke Scott, Rivera (0-1) struck out Sean Rodriguez. But Pena came up next and drove a deep fly ball off the base of the wall in left-center field to bring home Zobrist.
"That's bad," Rivera said. "You don't want to start the season this way. But at the same time, thank God it's only one game. We'll come back tomorrow and play hard again."
Rivera (0-1) had been 60-of-61 in save opportunities against Tampa Bay prior to Friday.
"It's going to happen, I saw Valverde blow one yesterday and he hadn't blown one in over a year," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "It happens, it's baseball."
Raul Ibanez smacked a three-run home run in his Yankees debut, while Alex Rodriguez went 2-for-3 with two runs scored and Robinson Cano added two hits for New York.
Getting the call for the Yankees this evening will be Japanese right-hander Hiroki Kuroda, who'll be making his New York debut after signing a one-year deal with the club this offseason.
Kuroda had spent his entire four years in the majors with the Dodgers and is coming a career-year for them that saw him go 13-16 with a 3.07 earned run average over 32 starts. His 202 innings and 161 strikeouts were also career bests.
Tampa, meanwhile, will counter with lefty David Price, who struggled a bit after finishing as a runner-up to the AL Cy Young Award in 2010. Price saw his win total drop by seven, as he went 12-13 with a 3.49 ERA.
The 26-year-old hurler has faced the Yankees 13 times (12 starts) and is 4-2 against them with a 4.05 ERA.
04/07 10:32:17 ET
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