Since they walked off the field after losing the ALDS to the Detroit Tigers, we have patiently waited six months to see the Pinstripes take the field. On Friday the 2012 season will officially kick off for the Yankees as they start a three game set against the team that they will battle all season for the AL East crown, the Tampa Bay Rays.
These 2012 Yankees will look much the same as last year’s squad, with the occasional new face here and there. Raul Ibanez, 39, who hit .245 with 20 homers and 84 RBI last season with the Phillies, will be the DH and another left handed bat in the lineup that will look to take advantage of the short porch in Yankee Stadium. The rest of the Yanks order will look the same with the names you know and love.
<a href="http://NYYUniverse.com/wp-content/plugins/wordpress-feed-statistics/feed-statistics.php?url=aHR0cDovL05ZWVVuaXZlcnNlLmNvbS8/YXR0YWNobWVudF9pZD00MDE2" rel=\"attachment wp-att-4016\">Ibanez will look to make an impact as the DH
On the mound starting Opening Day will be the workhorse and 19-game winner each of his past three seasons with the Yankees, CC Sabathia. Last season Sabathia finished with a 19-8 record and a 3.00 ERA. The Yankees will once again count on his consistency and health for another season leading a questionable staff. Following Sabathia will be newcomer, Hiroki Kuroda who signed with the club this off-season after four seasons with the Dodgers. With a 3.07 ERA last season, his 13-16 record gives vibes of a weak offense and little run support. Phil Hughes will tote the rock in the third and final game in Tampa as he looks to bring his spring training 1.56 ERA to the regular season after missing much of last year.
The Rays will send the top three in their rotation against the Yankees starting the season starting with James Shields (16-12, 2.82 ERA) followed by David Price (12-13, 3.49 ERA) then Jeremy Hellickson (13-10, 2.95 ERA). The Rays starting rotation might be the best in baseball and the Yankees will have first crack at them. The Yankees must try to get the starters out of the game early especially early in the season when most pitchers are still increasing their workloads. Tampa has lost their closer Kyle Farnsworth for the start of the season thanks to an elbow issue. This messes with the Rays bullpen order and roles so getting the starters out of the game early could benefit the Yankees.
<a href="http://NYYUniverse.com/wp-content/plugins/wordpress-feed-statistics/feed-statistics.php?url=aHR0cDovL05ZWVVuaXZlcnNlLmNvbS8/YXR0YWNobWVudF9pZD00MDI1" rel=\"attachment wp-att-4025\">Kuroda will make his first start as a Yankee Saturday
Trying to score the runs for the Rays will be the small ball style Joe Maddon, Rays manager employs. Led by All-star and MVP candidate Evan Longoria (.224 avg, 31 HR, 99 RBI) the Rays will look to give their starting rotation better run support than last season. First baseman, Carlos Pena (.225 avg, 28 HR, 80 RBI) returns to Tampa after a season in Chicago to add more power to the lineup. Youngster Desmond Jennings adds flash and speed to the order as he swiped 20 bases in 63 games last season.
In order to win the games and series, the Yankees need to pitch well and slow down the Rays on the base paths and get into the Rays bullpen and try to knock the starters out early. My prediction is that the Yankees get one of these three from the Rays this weekend. If this happens, let us not overreact it is just three games into the season, there is a long, long way to go. Regardless of what happens, enjoy your Yankees baseball. So grab your drinks, snacks and friends, it is time to play ball!