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Tampa Bay Rays and Opening Days

That magical day is finally upon us. It is Opening Day! The letters “O” and “D” are capitalized because it is a holiday. Maybe not for all but Opening Day is an unofficial holiday for many.

The first Opening Day was the first day the National League was established on April 22, 1876. The Boston Red Stockings (now the Atlanta Braves) defeated the Philadelphia Athletics (now from Oakland) 6-5. Opening Day traditions have changed over the years. At one time, pre-game celebrations involved parades with marching bands. Another tradition that no longer exists is the ceremonial first game being played in Cincinnati. At that time, Cincinnati was the most southern city in the league and theoretically would have better playing conditions in mid-April.

It is the Rays’ 27th Opening Day! The Rays have a 14-12 record on Opening Day. In 26 Opening Day games, the Rays have scored 138 runs and allowed 126. The Rays averaged 5.3 runs per game and allowed 4.8. The franchise did not have a good start. The (Devil) Rays lost their first three Opening Day games to the Detroit Tigers (6-11), Boston Red Sox (1-4), and Cleveland Indians (now Guardians, 5-14). In their 12 Opening Day losses, the Rays average 1.4 runs a game and their opponents score 3. The Rays’ run production is 3.9 in wins and their challengers are kept to a low 1.8. The team did bounce back and won the next four Opening Day games to reach a winning record. For the next decade, the Rays played 500-ball on Opening Day games. The Rays have won the last three Opening Day games.

In 26 years, the Rays have only played eight different opponents on Opening Day. Six games were played against the Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays. The Orioles lead the series 4-2 and Blue Jays are even at 3-3. Every American League East team has played the Rays at least three times on Opening Day. The Rays have the most success against the New York Yankees with a perfect 5-0 record. Whereas the Rays have a 2-1 record over the Red Sox. The Rays sport a 12-8 record versus their division foes. Other teams that opened the season against the Rays are Tigers (2-1), Houston Astros (0-1), Seattle Mariners (0-1), and Indians (0-1). The record versus teams outside of the division is 2-4.

This year the Rays will play the Blue Jays on Opening Day. It will be the seventh time this match up will take place and the series is tied 3-3. The first time they met was 2001 and the Blue Jays were kind enough to give the (Devil) Rays their first Opening Day win 8-1. Newly inducted Hall of Fame member and Tampa native Fred McGriff anchored the lineup by holding the cleanup spot that game. McGriff provided two of the team’s 15 hits on the day and an RBI. Four years later, the same teams met but this time Hall of Fame pitcher Roy Halladay took to the mound for the Blue Jays and kept the (Devil) Rays under control. The Blue Jays won their second meeting 5-2. Their third matchup, 2007, was a walk-off win the (Devil) Rays 6-5. In 2014, the Blue Jays returned with knuckleballer RA Dickey on the mound. The knuckleball was not knuckling and Dickey gave up six walks and Rays used them to their advantage with a 9-2 win. In the next game, 2016, Chris Archer and the Rays were victims of Marcus Stroman’s quality start in this 5-3 loss. The last time these teams met on Opening Day was 2020. This was that crazy half season year. Only Brandon Lowe is the remaining player from that team that lost 6-4.

It is a new season. Everything is fresh and starting over. Time to Rays Up!


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