It was a good day. Opening day! Real baseball was finally being played. The Tampa Bay Rays opened their season against the Toronto Blue Jays and R.A. Dickey, and they looked very good in a solid 9-2 win over the Jays.
The game started off with a bang for the Rays as Wil Myers doubled with one out in the first inning and Evan Longoria proceeded to single him in. Then after the Rays loaded the bases in the second inning before Myers drilled a 2-run single to make it 3-0 Rays. But the runs just kept on coming. A Matt Joyce sac fly made it 4-0 in the third before Joyce drove in two more in the fifth on a double to right field that just missed being a home run. Joyce hit the ball so hard that the Blue Jays almost got Jennings at home. But after Jennings executed a brilliant slide, the Rays were up 6-0 and the game was iced for good.
David Price was equally as impressive as the offense. Price went 7.1 innings allowing 2 runs on 6 hits, striking out 6 while walking 2. He took a shutout into the 8th inning before Erik Kratz broke it up with a 2-run home run and looked strong as a whole. It is year two of Price, the control pitcher, and it was a pretty smooth ride. Watching him, he didn’t seem the imposing David Price of old, but he got out and went deep into the game. Can Price be a “pitcher” for the whole season and be successful? He hit 94 mph a few times but sat in the low-90s. It is still only game one, though. We will just have to wait and see how Price’s season unfolds.
After Price departed, the Rays still had a little more excitement in store. In the bottom of the 8th, David DeJesus was hit by a pitch and had to leave (more on that in a bit). Brandon Guyer made his season debut as a pinch-runner. Then a short chopper by Wil Myers set off a comedy of errors by Toronto. Instead of letting third baseman Brett Lawrie field the ball, the pitcher Jeremy Jeffress stepped in front of the Toronto third baseman and, with his momentum going away from first, he airmailed the throw to first baseman Edwin Encarnacion. Guyer scored and Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista went to retrieve the ball. Myers made it to third before Bautista’s throw short-hopped Lawrie and bounced away. Myers got up and ran home, his exercise concluded, and the Rays went up 8-2. A James Loney sac fly capped the scoring as the Rays went up 9-2.
The bats were humming today. Wil Myers lead the charge with three hits and was a tough out all game long. Matt Joyce was 2 for 2 and drove in three of the runs, all the while looking very comfortable at the plate as well. Of course, the first two months are always Joyce’s time. Whether he can put together a full season of this remains to be seen. Jennings bulked up in the offseason and the added muscle, the Rays feel, will help his hitting. The Rays want Jennings to run more as well. How he balances the two remains to be seen. Desmond Jennings was 2 for 4 and looked strong at the plate, while also contributing a nice catch off the bat of Jose Reyes to begin the game. Offensively, the Rays looked strong from the onset, slamming Dickey for 6 runs in 5 innings with the help of 6 hits and 6 walks.
The one concern came in the bottom of the eighth, when David DeJesus was hit on the foot by Jeffress. X-rays were negative. After the game, DeJesus told reporters, “It’s not broken.” When asked if he could play Tuesday, DeJesus took a wait and see approach. The Rays will play it safe to make sure their starting left fielder comes back at 100%. Game Two tomorrow is a night game. Alex Cobb is making his season debut against Toronto’s Drew Hutchison. Stick and stay with Rays Colored Glasses for the preview, the recap, and everything Tampa Bay Rays.