Well, game one of the baseball season has come and gone. The Rays, unfortunately, did not win. But this was one game. One of 162. The season is still anew and Tampa Bay has two more games to stick it to the Orioles.
The Rays fell to the expertise pitching of Orioles ace Jeremy Guthrie. The 31 year old fast ball hurler kept the Rays fooled with a slider and allowed a mere three hits and one walk over eight innings. He didn't allow a single run. By then, the score was 4-0.
David Price was on the mound in his first opening day. Seven strikeouts were not enough to stop Roberts and Markakis of the O's to gather two RBI's a piece. The bullpen showed up in full force, holding Baltimore to their four runs, but the Rays never came back.
Overall, the game had two defining moments. The good was a flash of power from lead-off man Ben Zobrist when he railed a homerun into the right field corner in the ninth. The opening day shut out was thwarted to make the score 4-1, where it would stay. The bad featured a potentially poor call by the umpires in the eighth. BJ Upton was caught between second and third as he wandered a little too far from the bag. As he ran the bases to avoid the tag, short stop JJ Hardy ran into the backside of Upton, visibly knocking him to the ground. The umpire considered this leaving the baseline and an automatic out. Was Upton dead to rights? yeah. But Hardy almost blew an easy out, and one the Rays eagerly would have liked back.
The villain today was Guthrie, who has a history of success against the Rays (which MLB.com was quick to note). In fourteen starts he has always brought his A game, earning eleven quality starts. Said Johnny Damon, "He was pretty good. He kept getting that pitch just off the outside corner for strike one. To me, it seemed like after he got strike two, he would surprise me with a pitch in my wheelhouse, but I was definitely looking for something else. He did his homework... We have a chance to be really good, but the American League East all got better this year."
The Rays have two more games against the Orioles before hosting the Angels next week. Tomorrow, James Shields will take the mound vs Chris Tillman at 7:05. Tillman was the number three starter for Baltimore until Brian Matusz found himself on the disabled list.
The series will end on Sunday as the newly inked Wade Davis will battle the spring training phenom Zach Britton. Both games should provide ample opportunities for the Rays to flash their power and might against the new-look O's. Nothing this season will come easy, but with 161 games to go something tells me the boys in blue will find Another Way.