The New York Yankees lift the lid on the home portion of their schedule this afternoon when they welcome the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim to the Bronx for the home opener at Yankee Stadium.
The Yankees return home all even following a three-game sweep of the Baltimore Orioles that culminated with back-to-back extra-inning wins, including Wednesday's 6-4 win. Nick Swisher's two-run homer in the 10th inning was the difference in that one.
"It's so exciting to get out of here with the sweep," said Swisher. "When you win those first two games you really want to come back here and try to get that."
Mariano Rivera worked around a two-out single in the bottom half to record his second straight save in extra frames. Rivera also recorded his 40th save at Camden Yards, a new record for a visiting player at any ballpark.
Curtis Granderson went 2-for-5 with a home run and three RBI for New York, which evened its record after getting swept in Tampa Bay to begin the year.
Getting the ball this afternoon for the Yankees will be right-hander Hiroki Kuroda, who will be trying to bounce back following a shaky debut. The Japanese hurler was roughed up by the Rays for six runs (four earned) and eight hits in 5 2/3 innings.
Kuroda, who signed a one-year, $10 million deal with the Yanks this offseason, is ready for his first start in the Bronx.
"Rather than being excited, I'm more worried about how I'm going to perform," Kuroda said through an interpreter. "Since I've never pitched at Yankee Stadium, I'm a little bit preoccupied. But I try to do my best and have the best outing possible."
Anaheim, meanwhile, comes into this series licking its wounds a bit after dropping two of three to the Minnesota Twins following a 10-9 loss in Thursday's rubber match at Target Field that saw the Angels blow a six-run lead.
Dan Haren went the first five innings for the Angels and was tagged for three runs on nine hits with a walk and seven strikeouts. Haren said his team's 2-4 start is nothing to worry about.
"We know that we're better than how we're playing right now," he said. "It's only six games. We've got 156 left, so we're not going to blow this up too much."
Albert Pujols was just 1-for-5 in the loss and has still yet to hit a home run with his new team, but has driven in two runs. He's never played in the new Yankee Stadium and only visited the old ballpark on two other occasions - a series with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2003 and the All-Star Game in 2008.
"No disrespect when I tell you that, but to me, I look at it like another different stadium," Pujols said. "There's a lot of history in there, there was a lot of history in the old stadium, so I don't want to disrespect the memories and the history of the players that played through that city. But I don't get caught up in that. I try to separate the off-the-field stuff with my preparation."
Getting the call for the Angels this afternoon will be righty Ervin Santana, who will also be trying to shake off a tough start to the year. Santana was hit hard by the Kansas City Royals on Sunday for six runs (five earned) and seven hits in 5 2/3 innings.
He has faced the Yankees 12 times and is 5-5 against them with a 5.55 ERA.
The Yankees, who have won 13 of their last 14 home openers, took five of the nine matchups between these teams last season. It was their first series win over the Halos since 2003.