Rays Are Scorching Hot To Start The Season
The 2023 MLB season is off with a bang and so far there are a few surprises brewing.
The Tampa Bay Rays, who always seem to be there at the end when it counts, have started the season hotter than any team in baseball at 6-0.
They are winning with great pitching and also solid offense as they have outscored their opponents, 44-13.
The Rays opened the season against the Detroit Tigers at home and in Game 1, they scored early and late leading to a 4-0 victory. Wander Franco, who appeared in just 83 games in 2022, due to stints on the DL, hit his first home run of 2023 and finished the game 2 for 4. Starter Shane McClanahan, had a superb outing, tossing six shutout innings, allowing just four hits, with a walk, and six strikeouts to earn his first win in 2023.
After a day off, the Rays were back at it again on Saturday April 1, and they were not fooling around, as they banged out 13 hits, scoring 12 runs. Franco continued his hot start, with three more hits, as he doubled twice and drove in three runs. Yandy Diaz joined the hit parade with a 3 for 4 game, hitting his first home run of the 2023 season and also driving in three runs. Josh Lowe also doubled twice in the drubbing as he finished 2 for 4, with two RBIs. Zach Eflin followed up McClanahan’s start with a gem of his own, tossing five innings, allowing just one earned run on three hits, while striking out five batters to earn his first win on the season.
In the rubber game of the series, lefty Jeffrey Springs kept the strong pitching performances going, with six hitless and shutout innings, allowing just one walk and striking out 12 batters. Franco recorded his third straight two-hit game, finishing 2 for 3, and World Baseball Classic star Randy Arozarena hit his first homer of the season.
On Monday April 3rd, the Rays traveled to Washington to face off against the Nationals, and after the first two innings, they led 3-0. Luke Raley hit a two run home run in the first and Josh Lowe scored on a sac fly off the bat of Francisco Mejia. The Rays scored three more times in the game and pulled away for a 6-2 win. Drew Rasmussen kept the streak going with a superb outing of his own, as he tossed six shutout innings, allowing just two hits and struck out seven batters for the win.
On Tuesday, the Rays needed the bats to stay hot in the win column, as the pitching faulted with starter Josh Fleming allowing five runs on 10 hits in just three innings of work. But the Rays would not be denied their fifth victory of the young season, as they battled back from a 6-4 deficit late in the game and scored six in the final two innings, including a five spot in the top of the nineth, leading to a 10-6 win. The key blows were Raley’s third home run to tie the game at 6-6 and Josh Lowe’s first home run on the season to put the Rays in the lead for good; back to back jacks. Diaz put the game out of reach with a three run home run of his own.
McClanahan followed up his strong start with a not so impressive Wednesday outing, but was good enough to keep his team in the game to earn his second win. The lefty tossed six innings, allowing two earned runs, five hits, walked four and struck out six. The Rays offense kept rolling along as they scored seven runs leading to a 7-2 victory, improving their record to 6-0, and holding a two game lead over the second place New York Yankees (4-2). Franco hit his second home run on the season and Harold Ramirez, who hit six last year in 120 games, hit his first.
The Rays finished in first place in two of the last three seasons (2020-2022), losing in the World Series in 2020, the ALDS in 2021 and the ALWC in 2022. Maybe this strong start is an indication that the 2023 season may lead them deeper into the postseason, but with just six games so far, anything can happen in a 162 game season. For Rays fans, this is exactly where they want to be, ahead of the Yankees and leading the division.
Key AL East Division series coming up in a few weeks:
Boston Red Sox – April 10 – 13
New York Yankees – May 11-14
Top Rays Hitters
At Bats – Wander Franco (24)
Runs – Yandy Diaz (8)
Hits – Wander Franco (10)
Doubles – Wander Franco (3), Randy Arozarena (3), Jose Lowe (3)
Home Runs – Luke Raley (3)
RBIs – Jose Siri (8)
Walks – Yandy Diaz (4)
Top Rays Pitchers
Wins – Shane McClanahan (2)
Strikeouts – Shane McClanahan (12), Jeffrey Springs (12)