2000-The Rays sweep their final series of the season against the Yankees from the 26th to the 28th of September. The sweep was part of a 7-1 run to close the season against division rivals New York, Toronto, and Boston that likely saved the job of Manager Larry Rothschild-until next spring.
2001-In the first Yankee home game in the Bronx since the attacks of September 11th, Rays pitchers Tanyon Sturtze and Victor Zambrano lead a four hit shutout of the Yankees. Yankees ace Roger Clemens is dealt only his second loss of the season in the September 25th game.
2004-The Rays and the Yankees open the 2004 MLB season in Tokyo, Japan with a two game series. The Rays win the first game 8-3 behind former Yankee 1B Tino Martinez, who launched his 300th career home run in the seventh inning to cement the Rays' lead. Tampa Bay would drop the second game of the series the following day, 12-1.
2005-In a June 21st game at Yankee Stadium, the Rays blow a 10-2 lead en route to a 20-11 loss to New York. They held an 11-8 lead heading into the bottom of the eighth inning, but RHPs Franklin Nunez and Travis Harper proceed to allow 13 runs in the frame before New York is finally retired. Harper is charged with nine earned runs in 0.2 innings of work after giving up four home runs.
2007-OF Elijah Dukes homers in the fifth inning off of Yankees starter Carl Pavano in the April 2nd season opener at Yankee Stadium, but the Rays bullpen gives up a combined six runs in between the sixth and eighth innings as the Rays drop their third straight season opener by a 9-5 final.
Yankees at a Glance:
New York comes into this two game series in fifth place and limping following a series defeat at the hands of the Boston Red Sox this past weekend. After RHP Chien-Ming Wang's three hit, complete game shutout of the Red Sox on Friday night, the Yankees dropped the final two games of the series as their record fell to 6-7 on the young season. The good news for New York is that no one else in the AL East, or the American League for that matter, has done anything to distance themselves from the pack earlier in the season. While New York is in last place, they are still just 1.5 games off the pace of the division-leading Toronto Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles.
While no New York fan should ever worry about the Yankees losing games in April given the results of the last several years, that the team dropped two of three in Kansas City can't be pleasing. Worse still is the Yankees' series split with the Rays last weekend in the Bronx in which they got whitewashed 13-4 in the first game of the series. For a team accustomed to having their way with the Rays (and pretty much every other team) at their home stadium, that was a wakeup call. But as it stands, the Yankees have lost four of their past six and six of their past ten. New York has gotten away with slow April starts before, and so far it appears that they might get away with another one. But that will happen only if they find a rotation beyond Chien-Ming Wang.
The return of SS Derek Jeter tonight should help, but some of the Yankees' prized bats have struggled thus far on the young season, and they need that to change. The Rays will avoid Wang in this three game tilt, getting RHP Ian Kennedy and LHP Andy Pettitte instead. Kennedy, and RHP Phil Hughes as well, are both products of the Yankees' farm system, and the lynchpins of their movement to replace aging and ineffective veterans in the starting rotation. That movement will only work if they themselves prove not to be ineffective, which hasn't been the case thus far. Over the full season, New York will have to rely on the two young starters and potentially RHP Joba Chamberlain to keep them in the AL East or Wild Card race.