The Rays 4/7/12 starting lineup:
Tampa Bay will again take on the Yankees in front of a sellout crowd at the Trop tonight. 26 year-old LHP David Price will take the hill against RHP Hiroki Kuroda who will make his AL debut with the Yankees. By all counts, tonight promises to be yet another drama filled game, as the Yankees attempt to save face whilst breaking their four game losing streak at the Trop, and as the Rays attempt to keep up their momentum after last nights dramatic win. Granted this is only game two of a very long season. Then again, the Rays will need to charge into Detroit next week with some steam if they are going to be competitive against a Tigers team that seemed infallible against Tampa Bay last season… A Tigers team that has only gotten better in the off-season with the addition of Prince Fielder.
Kuroda didn’t fair to well against the Rays in his first major league spring training start on March 4th, where he lasted two innings, and had a slash-line of 2IP/3H/3 Runs (all earned)/2K. In that game, Kuroda had a 1-2-3 first, then gave up a leadoff single to Matt Joyce, an infield hit to Jeff Keppinger, and a two-run triple to Stephen Vogt, who later scored on a groundout.
Though the starting lineup has yet to be released, I could imagine that Luke Scott will be taking on the DH responsibilities tonight. I’d also imagine that Jose Lobaton will get his first catching start of the year. It will be interesting to see if Matt Joyce moves up in the mix, or if he bats in the nine hole again. I’d also be interested to see if Los moves up or down in the order, or if Maddon’s midnight premonition, which found him batting seventh yesterday, again finds him hitting seventh tonight.
On the flip side of things, tonight marks David Price’s first attempt at rectifying his somewhat lackluster 2011 season, where he went 12-13 with a 3.49 ERA. I say lackluster because it was, somewhat of, a far cry from his 2010 numbers where he was in contention for the Cy Young Award. In 12 career starts against the Yankees, Price is 4-2 with a 4.05 ERA. Those stats include last years game 162 start where he was knocked out of the game early.
In the past, if Price had a crummy outing, he would charge out of the door in his next start like a man possessed; like a man with something to prove. I’ve got to believe that with his last start against the Yankees, plus a disappointing spring, compounded to this being his first start of the year, will find him hell bent on mowing over the Evil Empire.
Price had some control issues this spring, and he will need to make sure that he has fastball command of the plate. He’ll also need to make sure that his fastball velocity is in the upper range to start the game, as well as rely on his change-up and off speed stuff if he is going to keep the Yankees off balance. Strike-outs are great. Then again, so are weekly hit grounders and pop-flies. Lord knows that if those numbnuts in pinstripes are good at anything, it’s hitting meatballs out of the park. I’ll update this post when the starting lineup’s are announced.