Previewing the opener (plus pitcher stats)

The Baltimore Orioles begin their 57th year of Major League Baseball tonight at 7:10 p.m. on the road vs. the Tampa Bay Rays. The O’s are opening on the road for just the second time in 15 years.

The O’s went 64-98 last year while Tampa finished at 84-78, one year after winning the American League championship.

Tampa sported baseball’s best record in spring training games at 20-8 with two ties. In the last 13 years, the team that had the best spring training record in the Majors made the post-season eight times.

This is the first of 18 games between the AL East rivals. The O’s were 8-10 vs. the Rays in 2009 which includes a mark of 3-6 at Tropicana Field which is sold out for tonight’s opener.

Versus the AL East in 2009:
Orioles: 24-48
Tampa: 40-32

The Rays, who were 52-29 at the Trop last season, are opening at home for the first time since 2005.

Kevin Millwood is set to make his first Orioles start but his 7th career Opening Day start. He pitched seven innings allowing just one run in last season’s opener, pitching Texas past Cleveland and is 2-4, 3.34 in six career starts in openers.

In five April starts last year, Millwood went 2-2, 2.13. For the year he was 13-10 and his ERA of 3.67 was 8th best in the AL.

Millwood vs. Tampa:
2009: 1-0, 2.57, one start
At the Trop: 6.63 ERA in three starts
Career: 2-2, 6.16 in five starts

James Shields makes a team-record, third straight start on Opening Day for Tampa. Last year he went 11-12, 4.14. He was 6th in the league in innings and 6th in fewest walks per nine innings.

But he gave up 239 hits, second most in the AL.

Shields in 2009:
First half ERA: 3.42
Second half ERA: 5.16

Shields vs. Baltimore:
2009: 2-1, 1.74 in three starts
Career: 6-2, 2.92 in 15 starts

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