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Everything you need to know for Opening Day of the Tampa Bay Rays' season

Everything you need to know for Opening Day of the Tampa Bay Rays' season
Posted at 5:25 PM, Mar 31, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-31 17:25:57-04

The Tampa Bay Rays will open their 20th season at Tropicana Field on Sunday when they take on the New York Yankees.

First pitch is scheduled for 1:10 p.m. If you plan on going to the game, there are some things you should know.

The game is sold out, the 12th consecutive year the Rays have sold out the home opener. If you still want to catch the game, it will be televised locally by FOX Sports Sun and nationally on ESPN. All Rays games are also available on the radio on 620 WDAE/95.3 FM.

PARKING

Lots will open at 8:00 a.m. on Sunday for the 10th consecutive year, the Rays will continue to provide carpoolers access to free parking in team-controlled lots. Vehicles with four or more people park for free on all Sunday games including Opening Day in Lots 2, 6, 7, 8 and 9--for all other games, the first 100 cars with four or more will park for free up to an hour before game time, with Tropicana Field parking rates ranging from $15 to $30 per vehicle. All parking  is subject to availability.

SCHEDULE OF EVENTS

Parking lots open at 8:00 a.m., but the stadium gates won't open until 10:00 a.m. Players will be at the gates greeting fans for the first few minutes.

The Rays will then take the field for batting practice at 10:05 a.m., followed by the Yankees batting practice at 11:05 a.m. Team introductions will begin at 12:45 p.m., with the National Anthem and ceremonial first pitch shortly after that.

Finally, the first Rays game of the 2017 season will start at 1:10 p.m.

AT THE STADIUM

Fans can expect to see brand new turf inside Tropicana Field this year. While the Rays were away at spring training, Shaw Sports Turf was installed, the fifth surface in 20 seasons.

All fans attending the opener will receive a Rays schedule magnet while supplies last.

The stadium also has some new food and drink items this season. From the chicken and waffles, to the grilled cheese burger, to the new 4-Seam American Lager, the Trop has plenty of new menu items to try. ABC Action News' Sean Daly previewed them all before the start of the season.

All season long, 7-Eleven will be offering kids 14 and under free Slurpee samples out of their alcove in Right Field Street.

OPENING DAY FUN FACTS

  • In past Opening Days, the Rays have outscored opponents 19-3 in the 9th inning
  • The Rays have never played an extra-inning Opening Day game, but have won three times in the bottom of the 9th inning (2003,2010,2012)
  • Last year, Rays pitchers tallied 16 strikeouts on Opening Day, tying the modern major league record for a 9-inning Opening Day game
  • The Rays have a collective batting average of .285 on Opening Day and have never been shut out

THE MATCHUP

Chris Archer will be on the mound for the third consecutive Opening Day, joining James Shields as the only Rays pitchers to do so. On the other side, the Yankees will throw RHP Masahiro Tanaka. In his last start of 2016, Tanaka gave up 4 HR to the Rays.

The Rays finished the 2016 season in fifth place with a 68-94 record while the Yankees finished fourth in the division with an 84-78 record.

Opening Day will be the first of 19 meetings between the Rays and Yankees (9 in St. Petersburg, 10 in New York). This will be the fourth time the Rays have played the Yankees on Opening Day and the fourth time the Rays have hosted the Yankees in their home opener (3-0, with wins in 2004, 2009, 2012)

The Rays went 8-11 against the Yankees in 2016 (5-4 at home, 3-7 on the road), slugged 37 HR, the most ever hit against New York in one season and hit 22 HR at Yankee Stadium, most ever by an opponent in the Bronx in either the new or original Yankee Stadium.

Since 2010, the Rays are the only AL team with a winning record against the Yankees (67-63, .515). 

Tampa Bay's homestand starts with three games against the Yankees, followed by four more against the Toronto Blue Jays. Tickets for the homestand can be purchased here.