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American League Preview from The Sports Network



Tuesday, April 2nd (All times eastern)

Baltimore Orioles (0-0) at Tampa Bay Rays (0-0), 3:10 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Baltimore - Jason Hammel (0-0, 0.00) Tampa Bay - David Price (0-0, 0.00)

(Sports Network) - American League Cy Young Award winner David Price gets his season started on Tuesday when the Tampa Bay Rays and Baltimore Orioles begin a three-game set at Tropicana Field.

Price was sensational for Tampa Bay a year ago, going 20-5 with a 2.56 ERA, and 205 strikeouts and 173 hits allowed in 211 innings. He may need to throw even more innings this season, as the Rays enter the year without workhorse innings eater James Shields, who was dealt this offseason to Kansas City.

History could be on Price's side in this one, as only three times since 2000 has a reigning Cy Young Award winner lost on Opening Day the year after winning the honor (Cliff Lee, 2009; Roy Halladay, '04; Randy Johnson, '03). Price took the loss in his previous Game 1 start, also against the Orioles.

"(Being the Opening Day starter) is what you want to be," Price said recently. "I don't only want to be the best on a staff; I want to be the best in baseball. That's what I strive to be, year in and year out."

Joe Maddon's club may have to rely heavily on his pitching staff following the offseason departure of outfielder B.J. Upton. Evan Longoria, though, continues to lead the offense and at some point should be joined by outfield prospect Wil Myers, who was the centerpiece in the Shields deal.

Tampa missed out on the postseason a year ago, despite posting a 90-72 record.

"Our goal is not to be watching everybody else play at the end of the year," Maddon said.

Baltimore, meanwhile, enters the year with enormous expectations following a surprise season that saw it go 93-69 and end a 15-year postseason drought.

Now the Orioles are out to prove that the 24-game turnaround last season wasn't just a fluke.

"People that play the game know that 'they say' is the biggest liar," O's manager Buck Showalter said. "I know what they say about us. We're supposed to be in last place. That's all right. Our guys, they're used to that environment."

Baltimore finished the season with a stunning 29-9 record in one-run games. Even more remarkably, the O's rattled off 16 straight wins in extra innings. No other team finished with more than 13 extra inning wins in 2012.

The bullpen may not deserve all of the credit for Baltimore's success in 2012 but it definitely deserves some of it. Baltimore's relievers combined for a 3.00 ERA in 545 1/3 innings last season, fifth-best in the majors and the second-lowest bullpen ERA in the American League (Tampa Bay led the AL at 2.88). Jim Johnson enjoyed a breakout season in his first year as the full- time closer, leading the major leagues with 51 saves in 54 chances.

Baltimore, though, wasn't among the league leaders in batting average (.247) but it made up for it by smashing 214 home runs (second in MLB) for an average of one homer every 26 at bats. Five Orioles (Adam Jones, Matt Wieters, Chris Davis, J.J. Hardy and Mark Reynolds) blasted 20 or more round-trippers last season, the first time that's happened since 2008.

Unfortunately, after beating Texas in the one-game wild card playoff, Baltimore's bats fell silent as the team batted a mere .195 and bowed out to New York in a thrilling five game ALDS.

Jason Hammel gets the call for the O's on Tuesday. Hammel was one of the best pitchers in baseball through the first half of last season, as he was 8-2 at one point with a 2.61 ERA.

However, he was bothered by a knee injury after that and pitched sparingly in the second half, losing his final four decisions, while seeing his ERA balloon up to 3.43.

Baltimore was 10-8 against the Rays last season.

04/02 14:48:14 ET

  • NASL: RailHawks vs. Ft. Lauderdale

    Tomorrow at 7:30 am on WRAL-2

  • PGA: RBC Heritage

    Tomorrow at 3:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • PGA: RBC Heritage

    Sunday at 3:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • PGA: Zurich Classic of New Orleans

    Saturday at 3:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • MLB: Atlanta Braves at NY Mets

    Tomorrow at 7:05 pm on 99.9 The Fan

  • MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Boston Red Sox

    Sunday at 7:05 pm on 99.9 The Fan

Scoreboard
Local
Final
DUR 3
NOR 2
 
7:05pm Tonight
NOR
DUR
 
Final
PHI 1
ATL 0
Final
DET 7
CLE 5
Final
MIN 7
TOR 0
Final
TEX 8
SEA 6
Final
SFG 1
LOS 2
Final
SDP 1
COL 3
Final
PIT 11
MIL 2
Final
WAS 0
STL 8
Final
TAM 2
NYY 10
Final
MIN 9
TOR 5
Final
CWS 1
BOS 3
Final
HOU 1
KAN 5
2:20pm Today
CHC
CIN
 
7:05pm Tonight
PIT
MIL
 
7:05pm Tonight
WAS
STL
 
7:05pm Tonight
CLE
TOR
 
7:08pm Tonight
DET
ANA
 
7:10pm Tonight
NYM
ATL
 
7:10pm Tonight
BOS
BAL
 
7:10pm Tonight
TAM
NYY
 
7:10pm Tonight
MIA
SEA
 
8:05pm Tonight
TEX
CWS
 
8:10pm Tonight
KAN
MIN
 
8:40pm Tonight
COL
PHI
 
10:05pm Tonight
OAK
HOU
 
10:10pm Tonight
LOS
ARI
 
10:10pm Tonight
SDP
SFG
 
Final
NYR 4
PHI 1
Final
STL 4
CHI 3
Final
COL 5
MIN 4
Final
SJS 6
LOS 3
7:00pm Tonight
TAM
MON
7:30pm Tonight
BOS
DET
10:00pm Tonight
ANA
DAL
Final
DUR 3
NOR 2
 
7:05pm Tonight
NOR
DUR