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.
Happy Opening Day!!!!
The Tampa Bay Rays started the 2013 Baseball Season against the Baltimore Orioles. After the anthem by saxophonist B.K. Jackson and Rays senior advisor Don Zimmer throwing out the first pitch (Evan Longoria catching) Cy Young Pitcher David Price took the mound. Nearly all sports journalists believe the Toronto Blue Jays will win the A.L. East with the Rays finishing second – Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees will be at the bottom. I, of course, predict the Rays will be back in the playoffs IF they can remain healthy and improve their offense.
- Desmond Jennings CF
- Sam Fuld RF
- Ben Zobrist 2B
- Evan Longoria 3B
- Matt Joyce LF
- Yunel Escobar SS
- James Loney 1B
- Kelly Johnson DH (Luke Scott is on DL)
- David Price P
- Nick Markakis RF
- Manny Machado 3B
- Adam Jones CF
- Matt Wieters C
- Chris Davis 1B
- J.J. Hardy SS
- Nolan Reimold LF
- Steve Pearce DH
- Brian Roberts 2B
- Jason Hammel P
The Orioles took the lead in the 1st after a double and a homerun made is 2-0. Ben Zobrist had the first hit of the year for the Rays in the 1st inning – always a great day in Tampa when the Rays don’t give up a perfect game. In the 2nd inning, Nolan Reimold was picked off and caught stealing 2nd base by Price to Zobrist. Price ran into trouble in the 3rd inning by loading the bases with one out. After a 13-pitch outing to Matt Wieters, Chris Davis grounds into a double play, ending the inning.
After three quick innings by the Rays’ offense, Ben Zobrist hit a homerun, making it 2-1. After the rough 3rd inning, Price becomes his usual Cy Young Winning Self, since he will need to be like that if the Rays fail to hit runs again this season. In the bottom of the 6th, Kelly Johnson led-off with a walk and then scored on Desmond Jennings’ double. Sam Fuld then moved Jennings to third on a bunt and Zobrist brought him home on a sac-fly, making it 3-2 in favor of the Rays.
Jake McGee entered the 7th inning after Price allowed 2 runs in 6 innings, throwing 100 pitches. McGee allowed two singles, a double, and a homerun to make it 7-3 in favor of the Orioles. Jamey Wright replaces McGee to get the final third out to end that horrible ending. When the Rays were up to bat, Ryan Roberts (replacing Mayy Joyce) singled, but Shelly Duncan (replacing James Loney) flied out and Jose Molina struck out. In the 8th, Jennings singles then with Fuld batting, he steals 2nd base and advances to 3rd base on a throwing error by Matt Wieters. When Fuld grounds out, Jennings scores, making it 7-4 in favor of the Orioles. Rays lose 7-4.
Well, the Rays may have lost but it is only the first day. David Price was able to settle down after a couple of rough innings and McGee wasn’t the best, but he has been a very dependable pitcher the past few years so it could have just been first-day jitters. The Rays’ defense was outstanding – Longoria and Fuld both made great catches throughout the day and the rest of the team handled the ball with ease. Ben Zobrist and Desmond Jennings continue to be the most consistent players on the Rays since they drove in and scored the runs today. The Baltimore Orioles looked like they don’t like all the attention the Toronto Blue Jays are receiving. Opening Day Attendance: 34,078. *Sellout*
Mumblings Around the Baseball:
- Evan Longoria said “the scarring that James Shields and B.J. Upton endured in the rough Devil Rays days remained a clubhouse issue, and the current team is in ‘a better mental state’ with them gone.” Eh- that was a little harsh in my opinion since Shields and Upton were HUGE parts of the Rays’ past and current success.
- Speaking of former Rays players, James Shields gave up one homerun on Opening Day; Kansas City Royals lost 1-0 against the Chicago White Sox. B.J. Upton went 0-4 for the Atlanta Braves (Braves won 7-5 over Philadelphia Phillies) and Carlos Pena went 1-4, scoring a run for the Houston Astros (Astros beat Texas Rangers 8-2).
- One of the Rays first great pitcher, Scott Kazmir, will be pitching for the Cleveland Indians against the Rays on Saturday, April 6. Kazmir strained his ab during workout, may go on DL and therefore miss Saturday’s game.