Bumpy Day: Blake Snell struggles and Tampa Bay Rays fall in opener
By Rylan Stiles
Baseball returns as the Tampa Bay Rays fall to the Houston Astros in game one of 162.
The Tampa Bay Rays returned to the diamond to get their 2019 campaign started against the Houston Astros at the Trop. It was a pitching matchup on paper that could only be dreamed about with the reigning CY Young winner Blake Snell going toe to toe against CY Young runner up Justin Verlander.
The Houston Astros were without star shortstop Carlos Correa today as he deals with a neck injury, and the Tampa Bay Rays missed Matt Duffy for game one as he starts the year on the Injured list. Correa hopes to return to the lineup at some point this weekend.
After hitting a leadoff home run in each of the last two seasons on Opening Day, George Springer popped out to Willy Adames to get the season started.
Austin Meadows got the scoring started, hitting a leadoff home run for the Tampa Bay Rays in the bottom half of the first.
Meadows, a young player with all the tools is looking to put it all together this season. It is encouraging to see him attack a guy like Justin Verlander early, and not be overpowered or intimidated by the veteran.
Meadows’ long ball was just the second time in Tampa Bay Rays history that the team has hit a leadoff home run on Opening Day.
The Houston Astros electric offense would not go away, in the third inning, Blake Snell gave up a three run home run to George Springer.
Springer barreled the baseball sending it 427 feet to dead center with a 105.8 exit velocity to boot.
That is the most runs Blake Snell has given up at home in over a year. The reigning CY Young award winner, who many people still were not sold on despite the hardware outside of the Rays community, would be forced to recover from a rare disastrous inning that saw him give up the lead.
Blake Snell could not recover as he gave up a leadoff home run shot to newly acquired Astro Micheal Brantley made it 4-1, Houston. Then Jose Altuve hit a home run in the fifth inning to make it 5-1 and further prove Snell did not have it today.
However, if you want to look at it glass half full, this is one of the best lineups in baseball. The flip side of that coin is the other two best lineups in baseball are in the AL East.
This obviously was not a good outing for Snell, who spent his first two years in the big leagues struggling to find his way with a 3.84 ERA in 2016, and a 4.04 ERA in 2017 before his dominating season in 2018.
Will we see a bit of regression from Snell in 2019 back to the mean? Obviously, no one wants to overreact, but it is something to think about after game one.
Blake Snell finished with a line of six innings pitched, five runs allowed on six hits.
Offensively, there were not very many bright spots outside of Austin Meadows solo shot to start things off.
Defensively, the Tampa Bay Rays flashed the leather. A diving snag from Austin Meadows, a scortching line drive caught by Willy Adames, and Ji-Man Choi digging out every single ball at first base while covering ground in foul territory. That by far is the highlight of the day, the defense.
Stiles Star of the game: Austin Meadows. The young outfielder hit a solo homer and made a stellar defensive play in the outfield sliding for the grab that should end up on Sports Center tonight. Thus giving him the first ever Stiles Star award!
Final Score: 5-1, Houston Astros.
Be sure to check back tomorrow morning for more takeaways from Day’s game! Do not forget to follow along on Twitter as we live tweet every game, and Rays news! @RaysColoGlasses.