Rays begin AL title defense with 1-0 Opening Day win over Marlins

Tyler Glasnow had a picture-perfect Opening Day start for the Tampa Bay Rays.

The new ace of the rotation was spectacular against the Miami Marlins, allowing one infield hit in six scoreless innings on the mound, striking out six on just 76 pitches.

However, while Glasnow was masterful on the mound, the Rays’ offense scuffled against Miami starter Sandy Alcantara, who fanned seven over six innings of work.

The bats might have been silenced to start, but Austin Meadows gave Tampa Bay the jolt of energy it needed, hitting a go-ahead solo home run in the eighth inning as the Rays (1-0) defeated the Marlins (0-1), 1-0.

(Will Vragovic/Tampa Bay Rays)

No one really knew that it was going to be a pitcher’s duel to this extent on Thursday, but the pitching matchup truly lived up to the billing, especially on Glasnow’s end.

He threw his new slider early and often, even causing Miami’s Jesus Aguilar to stare and smile after one was dropped in the zone.

Early signs pointed toward an early departure for Glasnow as he threw 20 pitches in the first inning. 

However, he settled down relatively quickly, throwing just 46 over the next five, working efficiently and effectively on the mound.

The Meadows home run was the icing on the cake of what might become a signature Rays victory this season, one dominated by pitching, with enough offense sprinkled in to win a close game.

(Will Vragovic/Tampa Bay Rays)

Rays fans are hoping to see a revamped Meadows in 2021 as he slimmed down in the offseason and looked really comfortable at the plate in spring training, mashing pitches over the fence.

In relief of Glasnow, Ryan Thompson, Pete Fairbanks and Diego Castillo all threw a scoreless inning each.

However, the eighth inning with Fairbanks got a bit dicey as he allowed two runners on, but got out of the jam with a Corey Dickerson flyout to Kevin Kiermaier.

A few things of note about Thursday’s game:

  1. It was nice to see fans back in the stands. The reported attendance at loanDepot park, which is now sponsored, was 7,062, and fans were socially distant. It was also nice to see the third deck opened down in Miami as low attendance has really never given the team the desire to open it.
  2. I don’t know how prevalent the cheering section was in 2019 when the Marlins first announced this new promotion, but the live instrumentation inside the park was fantastic. Kudos to whoever showed up for that because everything was in tune and it provided a soundtrack to the game. It really brought back memories of the 2017 World Baseball Classic, where live cheering sections for Colombia and the Dominican Republic in particular, just made the games more lively.
  3. I know the regional Fox sports networks made the move to Bally Sports for money, which makes sense, but the presentation of the game didn’t look great. Also, why is the strike zone overlay over top of the pitcher when they are on the mound? Shouldn’t it be hidden? It was very distracting. Always a fan of smaller TV scoreboards that take up less space on the screen. 

The Rays and Marlins will be back at it for Game 2 of the series on Friday night, as Ryan Yarbrough takes the hill against Pablo Lopez.

First pitch is at 7:10 PM EST.

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