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Devil Rays Surprise Yankees in Opener

March 31, 2004|From Associated Press

TOKYO — Fans in the Tokyo Dome seemed surprised. The ones in New York must have been shocked.

On the other side of the world, playing when the rest of Major League Baseball was in bed, the New York Yankees looked lost.

Jose Cruz Jr. hit a tying home run that sparked a comeback, Tino Martinez put away his former team with the 300th homer of his career and the lowly Tampa Bay Devil Rays roughed up Mike Mussina for an 8-3 victory over the Yankees on Tuesday in the major league season opener.

People back home got up in the middle of the night to see this?

"Hopefully, it's 5 a.m. and not many people were watching," Alex Rodriguez said, thinking of when the game began, New York time.

The team that dominates the American League East couldn't do much in the Far East, getting outhit, 15-7, and playing sluggishly.

Rodriguez took called third strikes in his first two at-bats before hitting a double and popping out.

Hideki Matsui had the first hit of the major league season, a first-inning double in front of the fans who adore their homegrown hero, and he scored on Jason Giambi's two-run homer to left field.

Cameras flashed whenever Matsui walked to the plate. During 10 seasons in this ballpark with the Yomiuri Giants, he became Japan's biggest star.

The Yankees wore pinstripes even though they were the visiting team.

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