The 2011 spring training season opened on a familiar note for the Rays, as the reigning Grapefruit League champion Tampa Bay Rays dispatched the Pittsburgh Pirates 9-5 in Port Charlotte this afternoon.
This first game of a best of three between Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay was tight for the first seven innings, with the Pirates drawing first blood in the top of the second inning off a shaky Adam Russell. Russell allowed two singles and a HBP to load the bases with no outs before Ronny Cedeno and Jose Tabata drove in runs with a single and a fielders choice. Evan Longoria cut the deficit in half with a towering shot to deep center field in the fourth inning, and Sean Rodriguez added a homerun of his own into the left field visiting bullpen in the fifth, tying the game.
The star of the game turned out to be newly acquired catcher Robinson Chrinios, who broke the game open in the 7th with a bases loaded two out, two strike double into the left field corner, clearing the bases and driving in three runs. Chirinos would finish with 4 RBIs on the day, adding another on a blooper in the 8th inning as the Rays piled on four unearned runs that inning.
Starter David Price pitched a scoreless inning, inducing three groundballs and striking out one but also issuing a walk. After Russell's shaky second, the Rays bullpen would retire sixteen straight before Pedro Ciriaco reached on a fielding error in the 8th. The Garfoose, Dirk Hayhurst, pitched two scoreless innings with two strikeouts, Rob Delaney pitched two scoreless with three strikeouts, and both Chris Archer and Matt Bush got an inning of work. Caesar Cabral, acquired from the Red Sox in the Rule 5 draft allowed two runs in the 9th before Brandon Gomes was brought in for the Save.
- Its hard to take much away from the first Spring Training game, as pitchers are ahead of hitters, but many of the Rays hit the ball well today. Of the starters, Manny, Longo, Brignac, and Rodriguez all had hits and the guys that didn't get a hit were making good contact.
- The bullpen contenders in Hayhurst, Delany, and to a lesser extend Bush and Archer all impressed. Watching Archer warm up was particularly impressive as he has a great fluid delivery and lots of zip on his fastball. He was consistently popping Lobaton's glove in the pen eliciting oohs and aahs from the crowd watching.
- Yay, Baseball is back!
Pictures after the jump...
The Rays hold their green St. Petersburg Police Department hats to their chest in honor of the three recently fallen St. Petersburg Police Officers during a moment of silence for the officers before the national anthem.
David Price warms up before the game.
Fat guy in Red Sox boxers arguing with a New Yorker, Win.