The Rays are back home inside of Tropicana Field after sweeping the Nationals in Washington. The Oakland Athletics come to town and will have Ken Waldichuk open the series, while Zach Eflin will take the mound in his second start with the Rays.
The A-Squad vs the A's pic.twitter.com/Jy0YfO5HXW— Tampa Bay Devil Rays (@RaysBaseball) April 7, 2023
Eflin made quick work of the first two A’s hitters, retiring them both on groundouts and needing only seven pitches to do so. Aledmys Diaz went down on four pitches, striking out on a curveball to end the inning.
The Rays offense did not do much with their plate appearances in the first, as Yandy Diaz flew out and Wander Franco grounded out, while Randy Arozarena grounded out to strand Isaac Paredes on first, who singled with two outs.
Eflin wasn’t as sharp in the top of the second, allowing leadoff hitter Seth Brown to single and Ramon Laureano to move him up to third with a one-out double. Jace Peterson singled up the middle to give Oakland an early 1-0 lead, and a good home throw by Jose Siri made sure that lead would only be one. Eflin struck out Esteury Ruiz to end the inning and give the offense an opportunity to respond.
Harold Ramirez led off the second by swinging at the first pitch he saw, sending it 339 feet over the right field wall while leaving his bat at 100 mph to tie this game up, 1-1.
Harold wasted exactly 0 time tying this one back up pic.twitter.com/WuhGWkIlK1— Tampa Bay Devil Rays (@RaysBaseball) April 7, 2023
The Rays weren’t content with just tying this one. Manuel Margot walked after the home run, and he moved up to third after Jose Siri singled and took second on the play. Christian Bethancourt walked to load the bases for Taylor Walls, and Walls took a low fastball for ball four to give the Rays a 2-1 lead.
Yandy Diaz stepped up with the bases still loaded and the lead in tact, but he struck out, as did Wander Franco, handing the opportunity over to Isaac Paredes with two outs. Paredes capitalized, hitting a towering fly ball to left that landed in the first row of seats for a grand slam, stretching the lead out to 6-1.
This would've gone way farther if it hadn't hit the moon pic.twitter.com/9OnHnDSiM7— Tampa Bay Devil Rays (@RaysBaseball) April 7, 2023
Oakland responded in the top of the third when designated hitter Ryan Noda hit a one-out solo home run, but that would be the only mistake Eflin would allow in the inning, striking out Aledmys Diaz and Seth Brown to end the frame.
Waldichuk remained in the game for Oakland as this one moved into the bottom of the third, and Manuel Margot got the inning started with a loud solo home run into the left field seats, sending the ball 427 feet after it left his bat at 104 mph. Jose Siri struck out before Christian Bethancourt launched a solo shot of his own, also hitting a ball 104 mph, sending it 419 feet over the center field wall. The lead stretched to 8-2 after both solo home runs.
Couldn’t decide which was better so…— Tampa Bay Devil Rays (@RaysBaseball) April 8, 2023
Why not both ♀️ pic.twitter.com/rjYaT91K3d
Eflin was solid in the top of the fourth, allowing a leadoff single to Jesus Aguilar but stranding him on the bases after getting the next three batters out.
The offense was finally quieted in the fourth inning, as Oakland replaced Ken Waldichuk with Adam Oller. Oller walked Randy Arozarena with one out but didn’t allow any runs, striking out Harold Ramirez in the process.
The top of the fifth saw Oakland score another run. Esteury Ruiz started the inning with a single and stole second with one out in the inning. Aledmys Diaz plated the runner with a double that bounced over the left-center field wall, making it 8-3. Eflin struck out Seth Brown to end the inning with limited damage. Oller stayed in for the A’s in the bottom of the fifth, and he again worked a scoreless inning.
In the top of the sixth, Eflin continued to work through the Oakland offense, striking out Jesus Aguilar on four pitches to begin the inning. Ramon Laureano hit a single that bounced off Eflin’s foot, but Eflin was okay, and he got Jace Peterson to hit into a double play to end the frame.
Oller stayed in for his third inning of work, the bottom of the sixth, and he was less sharp than his previous two frames of work. Isaac Paredes singled on a cutter right down the middle, and Randy drew a walk on four pitches, but Harold Ramirez struck out and Manuel Margot flew out to end the inning without extending the lead.
Calvin Faucher was brought in to pitch the seventh inning, relieving Eflin after six innings of work. Eflin’s six innings and 82 pitches thrown saw nine hits allowed, three earned runs scored and seven strikeouts.
Faucher allowed a solo home run to Shea Langeliers, which brought Oakland within four runs, but he got the next three hitters out to end the inning. During those three outs, Jose Siri made a tremendous catch in center to keep that lead at four.
That's one way to keep our beaches pristine pic.twitter.com/kgFIz36xYd— Tampa Bay Devil Rays (@RaysBaseball) April 8, 2023
The bottom of the seventh was quiet for the Rays, as Siri, Bethancourt and Walls went down 1-2-3, and despite a single by Aledmys Diaz in the top of the eighth, Calvin Faucher induced a double play with one out in the inning to work a scoreless frame.
In the bottom of the eighth, Wander Franco connected on a hanging changeup by Adam Oller, returning it 107 mph off of his bat and marking its landing spot 411 feet away. Wander was able to get one over the wall after sending a ball 405 feet but not leaving the yard earlier in the game.
Jason Adam entered in the top of the ninth, looking to close this one out for the Rays. He started the inning by striking out Ramon Laureano, and followed that up with a strikeout of Jace Peterson. Adam walked Langeliers on four pitches, then hit Esteury Ruiz with a pitch in a full count. Tony Kemp hit a single that was just out of Taylor Walls’ reach, allowing a run to score. It was a less than perfect outing for the reliever, but Adam finally recorded the final out after Ryan Noda grounded out to second, securing the 9-5 victory.
The Rays continued the franchise-record winning streak to begin a season, making it seven straight wins with no losses on the year, and remaining the last unbeaten team in the league. They’ll look to continue that streak tomorrow at 4:10 pm against the A’s, who will be starting right-handed pitcher Shintaro Fujinami against Jeffrey Springs inside of Tropicana Field.