Picking Up Right Where They Left Off

April 5, 2021

Tampa+Bay+Rays+and+Miami+Marlins+stand+on+the+field+for+the+Pledge+of+Allegiance+before+Opening+Day+at+LoanDepot+field

Will Vragovic

Tampa Bay Rays and Miami Marlins stand on the field for the Pledge of Allegiance before Opening Day at LoanDepot field

On April 1, the defending American League Champions stepped onto LoanDepot Field in Miami for the first victory of the 2021 season. The victory came after a quick nine innings, with the Rays beating the Marlins in a shutout and scoring one run off five hits.

Starting ace Tyler Glasnow took the mound for the Opening Day start, his first in his five years of playing in the Majors. He debuted his new pitch early in the first inning and got the first of his six strikeouts on the slider, which he used for 31% of his pitches. The 6’8 right-hander used his trademark fastball, hitting 100 mph in the third inning, for the majority of the pitches and utilized the 12-6 curveball for only nine pitches.

Tyler Glasnow utilized his fastball (41 pitches), slider (26 pitches), curveball (9 pitches), and changeup (1 pitch) on Opening Day (Will Vragovic)

In the post game press conference, Rays manager Kevin Cash mentioned Glasnow had felt some back tightness before the game, but was adamant about getting to start and assured both Cash and pitching coach Kyle Snyder that he was able to play. Cash assured Rays’ fans that he is not worried about the tightness and are “confident he is totally fine.”

Cash complimented Glasnow’s performance saying, “He was outstanding. Really good…It’s nice to see when it comes together…I thought Tyler did a great job staying in himself [and he] looked like an ace.”

The only part of Glasnow’s game affected was his performance at the plate. Since the Rays were playing on a national league field, Tyler Glasnow and the Rays bullpen had to bat. Glasnow spent much of Spring Training begging Cash to let him get some reps in at the plate, but stood statue during his at bats, watching ten pitches from Marlin’s starter Sandy Alcantra.

“I don’t know what was going on,” Glasnow said, obviously upset he missed the opportunity to get a hit as an American League pitcher. “I was so excited to swing.”

The rest of Tampa Bay’s offense picked up Opening Day right where they left off in October. Predictably, rookie sensation Randy Arozarena got the Rays’ first hit of the season on a single to right field. The Rays loaded the bases with two outs twice, once in the first and again in the ninth innings, but left them stranded both times. The only run of the game was scored by Austin Meadows, who hit a 419 foot shot into the stands, returning to his 2019 form.

Austin Meadows celebrates in the dugout after his Opening Day homer (Will Vragovic)

Meadows struggled last season, after missing part of the season with Covid, and spending the rest of the season recovering. In the offseason, he lost 20 pounds by working with a trainer in order to return to his All-Star worthy performance.

Glasnow, who played with Meadows in Pittsburg before they were both traded to the Rays in 2018, mentioned that a few of the other players were guessing who would be the first to pop a homer and said fellow starter Ryan Yarborough predicted it would be Meadows.

With the shutout victory, the Rays are undefeated and tied for first place in the American League East with the Toronto Blue Jays (who beat the New York Yankees 3-2). The Rays, led by Yarborough, will face the Miami Marlins again tonight at 7:10 on Bally Sports Network.

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