Happy Opening Day!!!
I hope everyone went to the doctor and received prescriptions for high blood pressure and anxiety medication over the off-season because this season is expected to be the most exciting one in Tampa Bay Rays’ history. Several sports analysts predict the Rays will make it to the World Series. Now before Rays fans get too excited, there are 162 regular season games to be played.
Toronto Blue Jays
- Jose Reyes SS (left with hamstring tightness) –> Ryan Goins
- Melky Cabrera LF
- Jose Bautista RF
- Edwin Encarnacion
- Dioner Navarro DH (remember him? 2008 Rays All-Star catcher)
- Brett Lawrie 3B
- Colby Rasmus CF
- Maicer Izturis 2B
- Josh Thole C –> Erik Kratz
- R.A. Dickey SP
Tampa Bay Rays
- David DeJesus LF –> Brandon Guyer
- Wil Myers RF
- Ben Zobrist 2B
- Evan Longoria 3B
- James Loney 1B
- Desmond Jennings CF
- Matt Joyce DH
- Jose Molina C
- Yunel Escobar SS
- David Price SP
David Price looked ready for the 2014 baseball season as he walked to the mound. Price had a quick 1-2-3 inning by getting Jose Reyes to fly out to center, Melky Cabrera to ground out to shortstop, and Jose Bautista to strike out. Rays leadoff hitter David DeJesus popped out, but Wil Myers wasted no time showing fans what to expect of him this season by hitting a double. After Ben Zobrist struck out, Evan Longoria singled to bring Myers home. Isn’t the Myers-Longoria threat beautiful? Price repeated his awesomeness in the second inning, quickly bringing the Rays back up to bat. Both Desmond Jennings and Matt Joyce are expected to be better offensively and both showed a positive sign that they were heading into that direction; Jennings doubled and Joyce walked. With two on, Jose Molina struck out, Yunel Escobar flied out to right, and DeJesus walked, bringing Myers up to bat in a bases-loaded situation. Myers being Myers, he singled to bring Jennings and Joyce home. At the end of the second inning, Rays lead 3-0.
In the third inning, Price allowed a walk to Colby Rasmus to end his 6-player retiring streak. Bautista singled, but Price was able to end the threat by getting Josh Thole to ground into a double play and Ryan Goins to ground out. The Rays added to their lead with Longoria leading off with a walk, Loney moving Longoria over by grounding out to pitcher, Longoria moving to third on a wild pitch, and scoring when Joyce hit a sacrifice fly to center. It looked as though the replay challenge was going to be used when Longoria slid into second base, but the Jays decided not to challenge it (Longoria was safe in the replays). The fourth inning was scary when Cabrera singled to center and Bautista singled to left, but Price was able to strike Edwin Encarnacion and Brett Lawrie out while getting Dioner Navarro to fly out to center.
At the bottom of the fifth inning, Zobrist led off with a walk. Longoria popped out to third (darn these infield popups), Loney walked, but then Jennings grounded out into a fielder’s choice, sending Loney back to the dugout. With two-on and two-out, Joyce doubled to right, bringing Zobrist and Jennings home. Molina flied out to center to end the inning, but the Rays now lead 6-0 over the Jays.
In the seventh inning, Loney lead off with a single and stole a base. Joyce doubled to send Loney to home plate where he was out. Molina ended the inning with a hit to shortstop (at least he hit the ball this time). Erik Kratz hits a 2-run homerun in the eighth inning. Kratz replaced pitch-hit for Thole, making his debut for his new team (so of course he hits a homerun on the first pitch against the Rays). After Price struck out Goins, Joe Maddon made the call to the bullpen and Joel Peralta was sent out. Price allowed 2 runs on 6 hits with 102 pitches. Peralta retires the next two batters to end the inning. In the bottom of the eighth, Dejesus comes out after being hit by a pitch during a pickoff at first. Brandon Guyer replaces DeJesus and waits on first as Myers approaches the plate. Myers ends up scoring both Guyer and himself due to a throwing error by pitcher Jeremy Jeffress and a throwing error by Bautista. Zobrist walks his third walk of the game, Longoria singles, and Loney hits a sacrifice fly to score Zobrist. Jennings singles to load the bases, but Molina (once again) ends the inning by grounding out. Rays now lead 9-2.
In the ninth, Brandon Gomes struck out Encarnacion, gave up a hit to Navarro, struck out Lawrie, and gets Rasmus to ground out to end the game. Rays win 9-2!
1 game down, 161 to go…
What I like:
- Offense: Almost every Ray contributed to the game today and some runs were even scored when the base runners were in scoring positions AND there were two outs. Crazy.
- Defense: Desmond Jennings make a spectacular catch in the first, a great start for the team since the defense wasn’t the best last year. Minus a ball that past Yunel Escobar’s glove, the defense looked what it is expected to be all the time.
- Pitching: David Price looked amazing – he wasn’t 100% perfect, but he looked ready to lead the team to plenty of wins his final year in Tampa Bay. Joel Peralta and Brandon Gomes.
What I didn’t like:
- Evan Longoria and Wil Myers being separated. Joe Maddon probably has some explanation, but shush and put the powerhouses next to each other.
- It’s still too early and I’m determined not to bring up the past, but certain players need to stop being an instant out (who know who I’m talking about).
- The construction on I-275 is making the usual 30-45 minute drive to St. Petersburg to a 2-hour ordeal. For any Rays fans planning on making the trip to St. Pete this season, please leave early or expect some fun times on the Howard Franklin.
Jays haven’t won a series at the Trop since April 2007.
Replay challenge was used for the first time this season during the Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates game. The play was upheld and took a long time of 2 minutes to decide it… Good-bye 10 minute yelling matches between managers and umpires.