Friday, April 6, 2007

Devil Rays Home Opener Tonight! (April 6, 2007)

The new Tropicana Field upgrades and refurbishments will be enjoyed by a packed house of paying attendees tonight as the Tampa Bay Devil Rays open against the Toronto Blue Jays. James Shields takes the mound for the Rays as they battle Gustavo Chacin at 7:10 ET. The sellout is only the 5th in team history (first game in 1998, 2004 and 2006 home openers and a July 2004 game vs. the Yanks). A crowd of 38,600 is expected for the Rays' 10th Home Opening game.

Starter James Shields, who was Tampa Bay BBWAA's choice as top Devil Rays rookie last year also set team Spring Training records for Innings Pitched (29.1) and Strikeouts (30). His 30 strikeouts was 2007-high among all Spring Training pitchers. Today will mark his second career start vs. the Blue Jays (Aug 16, 2006, Won 8-3)

Both teams come into the contest with a record of 1-1. This is the third time the Blue Jays were the opponent's in a Tampa Bay home opener (record split at 1-1). Sunday's afternoon matchup pits Roy Halladay against Scott Kazmir in a series-capping battle of Aces. The Devil Rays are of course Baseball's youngest team, the Blue Jays are the 21st youngest team.

Tonight's Home Opening ceremonial first pitch will be thrown by newly elected Governor of Florida, Charlie Crist and caught by St Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker. The National Anthem will be sung by former New York City police officer, Daniel Rodriguez.

The home opener is a chance to jump on the lofty goal set forth by management to win at least 50 games at home this year and help establish a dominant mindset at home.

The Devil Rays players are surely happy to be home after their bundled up, snow infused victory over the New York Yankees last night, 7-6 in the wintry Bronx. I have to say though, some of the players looked at little felinish wearing all the stay-warm gear. Hey fellas, it gets cold in October too (start getting used to it!) So much for the "football player" comparisons that announcers were thrusting upon the team..

Elijah Dukes could make history tonight. Thirteen players before him (since 1900) hit HRs in each of their first two games. Elijah was the first to pull the feat off against the Yankees. He could become the ONLY player in MLB history to hit a HR in each of his first three games!

The Devil Rays are also leading the Major Leagues in stolen bases with 6 (tied with the Twins) despite playing only two games so far.

Today is also the one year anniversary of Joe Maddon's first managerial win.

Go Devil Rays!!!

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