For the Yanks, CC Sabathia looks to improve upon his 5.2 inning, 5 run outing against the Red Sox facing a Rays lineup that tagged Javier Vazquez for 8 runs last night. Like Vazquez did against the Rays, Sabathia started off strong on Sunday but saw the wheels fall off as the game wore on.
Jorge Posada gets the day off (day game after a night game) meaning that Francisco Cervelli will see his first start of the year. It works out well because Sabathia and Cervelli were an excellent battery last year, holding opponents to a .551 OPS in 10 starts.
Twenty-four year old Florida native Wade Davis (not be confused with the noted Canadian ethnobotanist) gets the start for the Rays. About three quarters of the pitches Davis throws are fastballs, but he can get away with that because the pitch sits in the low-to-mid 90's with considerable sink. He can throw his curveball for strikes and occasionally mixes in some sliders and change ups.
Taken in the third round of the 2004 draft, Davis has avoided injury and steadily worked his way up through the Rays system, pitching a full season in AAA before making his Major League debut late last year. Davis has had consistent success throughout his 5 year minor league career and his time in the Big Leagues last September was no different. He made six starts for the Rays last September, averaged more than six innings per start and tallied up an ERA of 3.72.
The last of those six starts came against the Yankees in the regular season finale. The Bombers plated 5 runs in 5+ innings against Davis that day at the Trop, chasing him from the game during the huge inning that A-Rod hit his 29th and 30th home runs of the season. We went with some Zeppelin for that game and we're going back to the well today.
This tune is a beautiful acoustic arrangement - played in the rather obscure open C tuning - off of the album Physical Graffiti. It doesn't have lyrics but the title roughly translates to "golden hill" which makes me think of the pitcher's mound and the YouTube video below depicts a lovely April day similar to the one we are having here in the northeast.
Cervelli's presence pushes the hot Nick Swisher up to the #6 slot and keeps Brett Gardner out of the #9 hole for his first start of the season.
Nick Swisher RF