On the eve of the Tampa Bay Rays 25th anniversary year and 26th Opening Day, expectations were possibly as high as they ever have been. With Shane McClanahan eager to embark on a Cy Young campaign, Randy Arozarena fresh off a captivating World Baseball Classic performance, and Wander Franco healthy to begin the season, the Rays seemed poised to take care of business against the Detroit Tigers. Yet, despite the lofty expectations, there is nothing quite like a win on Opening Day.
Kevin Cash leaned on a righty-heavy lineup against Tigers starter, Eduardo Rodriguez.
McClanahan and Rodriguez traded scoreless frames until Jose Siri opened up the scoring for the Rays in the bottom of the third with a solo blast to left.
Hey Siri, how bout a home run? pic.twitter.com/fT5wRIuLK5— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) March 30, 2023
With the early run support from Siri, McClanahan cruised to six shutout innings behind six strikeouts, and only one walk. The southpaw allowed four hits. The performance put him in line for the win and the Rays offense made sure he would get credit for the performance, adding a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth to give the Rays pen some breathing room.
Randy Arozarena extended the Rays lead, driving in Taylor Walls. Shortly thereafter, Luke Raley came through with a clutch, pinch-hit RBI single to give the Rays a 3-0 lead.
Randy, of course, struck a pose:
Then, in the bottom of the eighth inning, Wander Franco put the exclamation point on what was a great day of Rays baseball. Franco blasted an opposite field shot for his first bomb of the year to give the Rays a 4-0 lead.
Having quite a Wanderful Opening Day pic.twitter.com/HYlEuJADSm— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) March 30, 2023
Out of the pen, Collin Poche, Jason Adam, and Pete Fairbanks combined for three scoreless innings to close out the game.
Play of the game? You guessed it…With a pair of runners on in the top of the 7th, Kreidler lofted a ball down the right field line. As the ball faded towards the corner, Manny Margot made a spectacular diving catch, saving two runs in the process.
MarGOODNESS GRACIOUS WHAT A CATCH pic.twitter.com/2K5XUDkhxY— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) March 30, 2023
The Rays and Tigers will enjoy an off day tomorrow before facing off again Saturday afternoon. Zach Eflin will make his Rays debut while Spencer Turnbull will get the start for Detroit.