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Rays First Series of the Year

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The first series of the new season is now complete. The Rays and Blue Jays split the four-game series. The Blue Jays claimed victory on Opening Day by an 8-2 score. The Rays won the second and third games with scores of 8-2 and 5-1. The final game in the series went to the Blue Jays with a 9-2 score.

The Rays scored 17 runs, whereas the Blue Jays scored 20. The Rays batters hit five home runs but the Blue Jays hit six. In the four games the Rays’ offense scattered 34 hits and the Blue Jays almost matched with 29 hits. However, hits with runners in scoring positions are needed. The Rays were 7-23 (.304) with runners in scoring position in their two wins. Conversely, the Rays were a feeble 1-9 (.111) with runners on second or third base in games they lost.

Timely hitting by Randy Arozarena, Jose Caballera, and Yandy Diaz is leading the Rays’ offense. Arozarena batted 5-14 (.357) with two home runs and an outstanding OPS of 1.186. This is a complete 180 from Arozarena’s poor spring where he batted a low 6-44 (.150). Fill-in shortstop Caballero is proving he deserves the job at his position with his bat. Caballero has the highest batting average on the team, 5-13 (.385). Finally, last season’s batting champion Yandy Diaz is continuing where he left off last season. In the early season, Diaz had five RBIs from five hits from 14 at-bats (.357).

Pitching is key to any successful baseball team. I crunched the numbers from the first series and quality starts from starting pitchers are clearly linked to wins. In the two losses, game one and game four, neither starter reached the sixth inning. In the two wins, game two and three, Rays’ starters completed six innings of work to qualify for a quality start. In addition, in the wins, each pitcher struck out six batters. In total, starters pitched for 18.2 innings, allowed 17 hits, nine runs (eight earned), and 18 strikeouts. A pitcher’s performance is measured by the number of innings pitched and the number of hits allowed. A pitcher’s performance is good if the number of hits allowed is lower than innings pitched and vice versa. Four of the six homers were hits off starters.

Bullpen numbers are eerily similar compared to the rotation. The bullpen threw for 17.1 innings and allowed 12 hits and struck out 15. These favorable numbers are spoiled by the 14 walks given up. Almost three times what the starters surrendered.

What’s Next

The next series starts tomorrow (Monday). The Rays will host the defending World Series Champions Texas Rangers. The 2-1 Rangers will face the 2-2 Rays at The Trop. Ryan Pepiot will take the mound for the Rays. During spring training, Pepiot struck out 24 batters in 19.1 innings. The Rangers will counter with Dabe Dunning. Dunning has a career record of 23-25 and won 12 games last season.

As for the lineup, Marcus Semien and Josh Jung are off to hot starts.

Tuesday April 2

(L) Andrew Heaney vs (R) Zack Eflin

Wednesday April 3

(R) Nathan Eovaldi vs (R) Aaron Civale

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