Rays-Yankees from Tampa, with more Hank
Final, Rays win 7-2.
Update, 3:49 Scott Munter is on to work the eighth with the Rays leading 6-2.
Update 3:35 Amid massive substitutions on both sides - involving a lot of guys you've never heard of since both teams are playing split squads - the Rays have extended their lead to 6-1 in the seventh, including a home run by catcher Hector Gimenez.
Update 2:40 Duncan hit again without incident, grounding out to end the fourth. Before Duncan hit, Alex Rodriguez made something of a statement of his own, realizing he was going to out by a lot and stopping well short of the plate and getting tagged out by Josh Paul. Just the way, we assume, Yankees manager Joe Girardi likes it.
Update, 2:34 Rays extended their lead to 3-1 as Eric Hinske started the rally with another hit to open the fourth.
Update 1:58 Shelley Duncan's first at-bat passed without incident. Jeff Niemann threw a fastball away and a slider, then Duncan hit a sharp grounder off 3B Willy Aybar's glove to reach first. Duncan gets as far as second on a single by Wilson Betimet but that's about it. The Yanks did score one on a double by Alex Rodriguez and a sac fly by Jorge Posada.
Update, 1:49 Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg responded on the comments below from Yankees boss Hank Steinbrenner, who suggested that since the Yankees help support the Rays through revenue-sharing, the Rays shouldn't play so rough against them.
Said Sternberg, via email: "Off the field, we are partners in trying to strengthen and grow the game of baseball. On the field, we expect our teams will compete with energy and passion, and none of us - whether as an owner, a player or a fan - would want it any other way.''
Update 1:40 Eric Hinske, trying to further his chances for a reserve spot, just homered to lead off the second. One out later, Chris Richard went deep also, making it 2-0 Rays.
Update 1:33 The YES network scouting report on 6-foot-9 Rays starter Jeff Niemann included this line, "Large one."
Update, 1:19 The game started without incident, as Akinori Iwamura grounded out to 1B Shelley Duncan, and there was not even eye contact. Rays have two on after a Jason Bartlett single and Cliff Floyd walk, but Willy Aybar lined out.
The intrigue started early Saturday, as the Yankees first called the Rays to tell them they wouldn't be able to take batting pratrice on the field at Legends Field because it was supposedly too wet. So with plans to leave at 9:30 they Rays will instead have to hit in the batting cages in Tampa.
Then the Yankees sent word that they had changed their pitching plans, switching from lefty Kei Igawa to righthander Ian Kennedy. It's not totally unusual for teams to make a switch, but they often go to a pitcher who throws from the same side as the scheduled starter as a courtesy. And it turns out the Yankees are only pushing Igawa back a few innings. Apparently it was something to do with their minor-league fields being wet.
But the highlight of the morning has to be the quotes in the New York Post from New Yankees boss Hank Steinbrenner, who essentially said that since the Yankees help support the Rays through revenue-sharing, the Rays shouldn't play so rough against them.
"I don't want these teams in general to forget who subsidizes a lot of them, and it's the Yankees, the Red Sox, Dodgers, Mets," he said. "I would prefer if teams want to target the Yankees that they at least start giving some of that revenue sharing and luxury tax money back. From an owners point of view, that's my point.
"Nobody likes the brawl-type garbage, it doesn't belong in sports. And I don't want to see anyone injured in a brawl."
As for the Rays lineup, it looks like this:
Jeff Niemann will start, with Dan Wheeler, Gary Glover, Scott Munter and Andy Sonnanstine scheduled to pitch as well.