Mariano Rivera blows save as Carlos Pena plays hero in first game back with Rays

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Craig mentioned earlier how Joe Girardi’s over-managing in the first inning resulted in Carlos Pena hitting a grand slam against CC Sabathia. Well, Pena wasn’t doing playing hero in his first game back in Tampa Bay.

The Yankees actually rallied back from the early deficit, handing the ball to all-time saves leader Mariano Rivera with a 6-5 lead in the bottom of the ninth. However, he quickly gave up a single to Desmond Jennings and a triple to Ben Zobrist to erase the lead. Girardi then called for back-to-back intentional walks to Evan Longoria and Luke Scott to load the bases and set up the force play. Rivera was able to get Sean Rodriguez swinging for the first out of the inning, but then Pena hit a long fly ball to left field which Brett Gardner let fall for the game-winning hit. It was a 7-6 walk-off win for the Rays in a thrilling opener.

Couldn’t imagine a better homecoming for Pena, but something tells me we’ll get at least a couple “Is Mariano Finally Done?” columns on our doorstep tomorrow. Suckers.

Will Middlebrooks carted off field with injury

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Phillies third baseman Will Middlebrooks suffered a serious injury during Saturday’s Grapefruit League contest against the Orioles. The infielder was chasing down a pop fly in the eighth inning when he ran into left fielder Andrew Pullin, who inadvertently trapped Middlebrooks’ ankle under his leg. Middlebrooks was unable to put weight on his leg following the collision and was carted off the field and taken to a local hospital for X-rays.

Per MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, not much is known yet about the severity of the ankle injury or the recovery time it will require, though it appears serious enough to set Middlebrooks back considerably as he seeks a backup/bench role with the team this spring.

The 29-year-old is currently seeking another opportunity to extend his six-year major-league career in 2018. He’s coming off of two down years with the Brewers and Rangers, during which he slashed a cumulative .169/.229/.262 with four extra bases through 70 plate appearances.