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New York Yankees Beat Tampa Bay Rays 7-3 to Win Both Opening Road Series of 2010

Doug Rush@Doug_RushSenior Analyst IApril 12, 2010

ST. PETERSBURG - APRIL 09:  Infielder Alex Rodriguez #13 of the New York Yankees smiles after hitting a triple and scoring on an error against the Tampa Bay Rays during the game at Tropicana Field on April 9, 2010 in St. Petersburg, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
J. Meric/Getty Images

The Yankees opened the 2010 season by playing their most hated rivals, the Boston Red Sox, on the road to start the year.

The Yankees won two of the three games to win the first series against Boston, a major confidence booster.

After Boston, the Yankees traveled to play another tough AL East division rival in the Tampa Bay Rays.

The first game went poorly for Javier Vazquez, and the Yankees took a 9-3 loss.

In the second game, CC Sabathia threw 7.2 innings of no-hit baseball before Kelly Shoppach broke up the potentially historic game with an eighth-inning single, but the Yankees still cruised to a 10-0 victory.

Sunday's game would be the finale and possibly had the best pitching matchup of the series: A.J. Burnett vs. James Shields.

Shields battled, but a high pitch count knocked him out in the sixth inning. He went 5.1 innings and allowed four hits and two runs, walked three, struck out five, and threw 103 pitches. Shields got a no-decision for the game.

After Shields left, it was Jorge Posada who connected on a two-run home run off Randy Choate and put the Yankees ahead 3-2 in the sixth.

While Shields was gone, Burnett shook off his first bad start and got back to being dominant, throwing seven strong innings, allowing six hits and two runs, walking three, and striking out one on just 92 pitches. Burnett picked up his first victory of the season.

Following Burnett was Joba Chamberlain, who gave up a run on two hits and walked and struck out one in pitching the eighth inning. Mariano Rivera pitched the ninth and closed out the 7-3 win for the Yankees.

What was good to see from Sabathia and Burnett is that they both rebounded from lousy performances in Boston to have terrific performances in Tampa.

In their first starts, Sabathia went only 5.1 and Burnett only five innings. Over the weekend, they both were able to give the Yankees an extra 4.1 innings and the bullpen a rest.

The offense of the Yankees got on a good roll after the Friday night game. Alex Rodriguez's bat is slowly starting to warm up, and Mark Teixeira finally got off the 0-for-16 skid with three hits on Saturday.

Posada, Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson, and Nick Swisher, the Yankees' No. 5 to 8 hitters, are all hitting well over .300 for the first week.

Overall, it was another productive series in early April against a tough divisional rival. Winning on the road is always important, and the Yankees are showing some toughness early on in the season.

With their first road trip out of the way, the Yankees will return to the Bronx for their first home stand of the year starting on Tuesday against the Los Angeles Angels.

The game on Tuesday afternoon will have major significance. One, former Yankees center fielder Bernie Williams will be throwing out the first pitch, and most expect his introduction to be a loud one.

Two, the Yankees will be receiving their 2009 World Series championship rings in a ceremony before the game.

Third, former Yankees DH and 2009 World Series MVP Hideki Matsui will be receiving his championship ring and returning to the Bronx while playing in an Angels uniform and playing his first game ever against the Yankees. However, despite being in a visiting uniform, Matsui should also receive a tremendous ovation for the seven great years he played in the Bronx.

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