Tampa Bay Rays Opening Day: Evan Longoria Homers in Loss
By Joe Saunders
The Tampa Bay Rays lost to the Baltimore Orioles 6-2 on Opening Day earlier today. Chris Archer got the start and was decent and Evan Longoria hit a solo home run, but the Rays couldn’t come back after falling behind early.
Baltimore got the scoring started early when Travis Snider singled home Alejandro De Aza on a ground ball through the shift, putting the O’s up 1-0. In the top of the 5th, De Aza then hit a two-run homer on a hanging changeup and one inning later Steve Pierce went deep to the left extending the lead to 4-0.
Evan Longoria finally got the Rays on the board in the 7th with a solo home run to left, cutting the deficit to 4-1. However, on a very strange play, Travis Snider doubled home Steve Pearce in the top of the 8th. Snider hit a ball off the right field wall and a perfect relay from Steven Souza to Logan Forsythe to Rene Rivera at the plate appeared to have Pierce out by several feet, but both players slowed up and Pierce slid his leg under Rivera after the high tag to score.
Asdrubal Cabrera doubled to left-center in the bottom of that frame to cut the lead to 5-2 and put the tying run at the plate, but Longoria popped out on the first pitch he saw. Ryan Flaherty homered in the top of the 9th to cap the scoring at 6-2 in favor of Baltimore.
Chris Archer started and went 5.2 innings allowing 4 runs (3 earned) on 6 hits, striking out 5 while only walking one. He did allow 2 home runs, but overall he was pretty good and hit his spots. His stuff looked normal with his fastball touching 97 MPH a few times. Obviously it was his first start and he has a long way to go, but he’ll look to improve in his next outing. The biggest thing for him will be to continue trusting his changeup even after giving up the home run.
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Steve Geltz had an extremely impressive outing out of the pen, striking out all 4 hitters he faced. He had no trouble locating his low-90’s fastball around the zone and showed a few nasty sliders as well. Ernesto Frieri got a raw deal as his final line was 0.2 innings pitched with an earned run and a strikeout, but he actually looked pretty good. Frieri hit Adam Jones with a pitch before Rivera picked him off at first, and then he walked Steve Pearce on an extremely close 3-2 pitch. Pearce later scored on the strange play discussed above.
Offensively, it took the Rays awhile to get going, but after Longoria’s homer there seemed to be a spark. John Jaso walked to start off the game but injured his wrist trying to advance on a ball in the dirt and would leave the game. He’s currently day-to-day. David DeJesus replaced him and went 2 for 3 on the game. Logan Forsythe hit a 2-out single that nearly scored James Loney in the bottom of the 5th, but Loney was thrown out at the plate.
Steven Souza Jr. went 1 for 4 and got the first hit of the game for the Rays, but he made a motion towards second after the throw got past the first base men and was thrown out in a rundown. He also looked uncomfortable tracking balls down in right field, but that may simply be from his lack of experience playing in the dome. His first game with the team could have been better, but there is certainly no reason for concern yet.
The Tampa Bay Rays will look to get back on track tomorrow when they face the O’s once again. Nate Karns will be on the hill against Wei-Yin Chen at 7:10 PM EST.