Matchup to Watch vs David Price
Nick Swisher is 10-for-22 with seven walks vs the Rays lefty , including 5-for-8 against Price last season, having reached base in each of his last four plate appearances.
Swisher has seen an average of 4.4 pitches per plate appearance against Price, which falls right in line with his ability to work counts.
When Swisher makes the decision to swing early in the at-bat, he’s effective. He’s 5-for-5 in the last two seasons against Price in the first two pitches of an at-bat.
This will also be the first meeting between Price and Mark Teixeria since Teixeria hit two home runs against Price in the final game of the regular season.
Prior to that, Teixeira was just 7-for-32 against Price, but that was likely due to being well defended. He’s only fanned against Price once.
Price does do a good job against the Yankees lefties. Robinson Cano is homerless in 31 at-bats against him. Cano, Curtis Granderson, and Brett Gardner are a combined 15-for-72 (.208) vs Price.
With a lefty going, Joe Girardi could work Andruw Jones into the lineup, but keep in mind that Jones was just 1-for-11 vs Price last season.
Matchups to Watch vs Hiroki Kuroda
Kuroda will be facing the Rays and pitching at Tropicana Field for the first time in his career.
He’ll likely face a lefty-loaded lineup, which makes sense given that lefties slugged .451 (nearly 40 points above league average) with 12 home runs against Kuroda last season.
Kuroda is a little bit prone to the wild pitch. He ranked second in the NL with 12 last season. But he’ll be working with a familiar backstop in Russell Martin, who caught him in 60 different games during their time as Dodgers teammates.
Kuroda’s career ERA with Martin was 3.76. With other catchers, it is 3.13.
The Granderson Shift
My Stats & Information colleague Will Cohen did a few lookups related to the Rays shifting their infield defense against s Granderson, which paid off twice on Thursday. Twice, Granderson grounded out on balls into the shift, including once into a double play.
Will noted via Baseball Info Solutions' defensive data that the Rays led the majors in shifts last season with 216, 46 more than the team with the next-most, the Brewers.
Their decision to do so was likely based on this piece of information –- 83 percent of Granderson’s grounders last season were hit between first base and second base. Granderson totaled only three groundouts to third base in 2011.
This may sound a bit geeky, but Derek Jeter has a very good history when playing in the Yankees second game of the season. In 14 “Game 2s” Jeter is a .393 hitter (22-for-56) with 15 runs scored. In his last five “Game 2s,” Jeter has four multi-hit games.
Another chance for Mo
Only once in his time as a full-time reliever (since 1996) has Mariano Rivera allowed a run in his first two appearances of the season. That came in 2005, with both games against the Red Sox.
The Not-So-Dreaded 0-2 Start
Fear not: If the Yankees lose, it would be their third 0-2 start since 1986. The other two were in seasons that ended with World Series titles -- 1998 and 2009.