3 takeaways from the Tampa Bay Rays' bummer Opening Day loss

The Tampa Bay Rays fell to the Toronto Blue Jays by a score of 8-2. Here are three takeaways from that game, as the Rays have officially kicked off the 2024 season.

Toronto Blue Jays v Tampa Bay Rays
Toronto Blue Jays v Tampa Bay Rays / Mike Ehrmann/GettyImages

And, there it is. The Tampa Bay Rays lose on Opening Day 8-2 to the Toronto Blue Jays. It is the first opening-season loss for the Rays since the 2020 season, when they also lost to Toronto. With the game in the books, here are three takeaways from the unfortunate contest.

3 Rays takeaways from Opening Day loss

1. Yandy Diaz's Big Day Shows He Could Have Another Big Season

Yandy Diaz went 3-4 with a home run, base hit, and double, leaving him just short of the cycle. He had two RBI on the day off of the home run ball and the double that scored catcher Rene Pinto. The home run Diaz had was in the first at-bat of the season for Tampa Bay, as he was the Rays' leadoff man.

An explosive first game puts Diaz on a good track towards another great season after he won the American League batting title last season, batting .330 with a .932 OPS and a great OBP up over .400. This 2024 season could be the year he solidifies himself as one of the best all-around plate presences in baseball.

2. Zach Eflin Had a Promising Start, Despite a Tough-Looking Sixth Inning

In his first career Opening Day start, Eflin pitched a clean first three innings, going through the Toronto order without allowing a base runner. In fact, up until a disastrous sixth inning, the only hit allowed by Eflin was a George Springer solo home run in the fourth inning.

However, the Blue Jays were able to lay it on Eflin eventually, as Cavan Biggio and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. homered before Alejandro Kirk and Kevin Kiermaier knocked in three RBI between their two hits in the inning.

When it was all said and done, Elfin left the game after 5.2 innings. He had a good strikeout and low walk day with five Ks and one walk.

3. Middle of the Order Struggles at the Plate

The Rays outhit the Blue Jays 8-7 in the loss. However, Tampa Bay was just 1-8 when it came to hitting with runners in scoring position, with the only hit coming off of Diaz's double. Isaac Paredes, Randy Arozarena, Jose Caballero, Jose Siri, and Harold Ramirez all went a combined 0-8 with RISP.

In fact, those five batters, combined with the other middle-of-the-order players like Brandon Lowe and Richie Palacios, went a combined 3-for-25 over the course of the entire game. A deeper dive into the batting numbers shows that the Rays lacked the ability to capitalize on opportunities at the plate to make any attempt at a comeback against Toronto.

Up Next

The Tampa Bay Rays will have three more games against the Blue Jays to complete this four-game series in Tropicana Field to open the season. On March 29, first pitch will be at 6:50 p.m. EST, with the pitching matchup being Tampa Bay's Aaron Civale going up against Toronto's Chris Bassitt.