The Rays season started on good vibes: Snell had a first pitch strike and strikeouts coming, and Austin Meadows led off the first inning with a towering homerun shot that tucked just behind the outfield fence.
Then all hell broke loose. Snell’s breaking pitches weren’t getting strikes, and the fastballs were getting gobbled up by the tough Astros lineup. Meanwhile the Rays offense was active but not finishing, stranding six base runners on Opening Day.
Nevertheless, after a long offseason, there were several new or recent Rays additions that shined on Opening Day. Let’s decide who stood out the most!
1. Austin Meadows led off for the first time in his Rays career, and started the season with a bang, powering an opposite field flyball just beyond the wall, despite swinging under a Justin Verlander fastball. It got the full-capacity Trop rocking.
THAT'S HOW YOU START A SEASON, @austin_meadows!— FOX Sports Florida (@FOXSportsFL) March 28, 2019
The young OF shows off the and puts the @RaysBaseball on the board with a leadoff homer against Justin Verlander!
Check out all of the #OpeningDay action live now on FOX Sports Sun and FOX Sports Go! #RaysUp #MLB pic.twitter.com/r2qMNKxnNq
Meadows also flashed some leather we didn’t see in his brief appearance a year ago after the Archer trade. Manager Kevin Cash even said mid-game, “I don’t think he makes that play a year ago!”
2. Ji-Man Choi flashed the leather a couple times as the Rays new, surprise first baseman. Choi was involved in all three outs in the fourth inning frame, snagging a one hop, hard throw from Adames, then picking up a tough bounce throw from Diaz, before then fielding a pop fly to end the fourth, and then record the second out of the fifth. Four out of five outs put hte spotlight on a player no many expected any defensive performance from in 2019.
Choi later batted through the shift on the right side in the sixth inning, causing an error off a tough groundball directed between defenders near second and playing short right fi
3. Mike Zunino in his first game behind the plate for the Rays caught two baserunners on Opening Day, feeding throws well to second baseman Joey Wendle. The first ended the top frame of the first inning, and the second led the sixth.
4. Jalen Beeks took over for Blake Snell in the seventh inning and debuted a brand new delivery, reading off the gun in the mid-90’s and hiding the ball so well I’m not sure how any batter is supposed to do anything other than guess what’s next.
Jalen Beeks' new delivery is almost unfair pic.twitter.com/GgAJepqrbW— DRaysBay (@draysbay) March 28, 2019
He struck out three of four hitters in the seventh, K’ing C Robinson Chirinos and SS Aledmys Garcia to start the frame, then after a two-strike single, whiffing leadoff hitter George Springer on a change up high and away. Mercy!
Beeks strikes out Springer to end the 7th pic.twitter.com/tF33UjR09q— DRaysBay (@draysbay) March 28, 2019
Beeks also went on to record the final two outs on K’s off his offspeed in the ninth inning, saving the bullpen from having to activate any further.
Who was the Rays 2019 Opening Day Player of the Game?
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