Eflin Quality Start, Stellar Defense, And Power BarrageFollow @Steve_Kinsella1
St. Petersburg, FL – The Tampa Bay Rays improved to an undefeated 7-0 on the season as they defeated the Oakland Athletics 9-5 on Friday night at Tropicana Field.
It was another team effort leading the Rays to a victory. Zach Eflin delivered a quality start, the defense was stellar with Jose Siri throwing a runner out at the plate and making a leaping grab at the wall. Taylor Walls made a pair of impressive plays including a scoop throw from his glove to nail the speedy Esteury Ruiz at first in the seventh inning. “I thought he [Zach Eflin] pitched really well,” Kevin Cash said. “Taylor Walls was his own highlight reel, obvioulsy Siri was.”
The offense did their part by belting five homers including a grand slam by Isaac Paredes. Kevin Cash was pleased with the power noting that “Home runs can do a lot of damage and open things up. Certainly timely when guys are on base.”
This season Tampa Bay has already had two games where they’ve hit four or more homers after having just one game of four homers in 2022. After tonight’s five homer barrage the Rays have hit 18 homers in their first seven geams, the most through seven games to start a season in franchise history. The last time the Rays hit five homers in a game was in New York against the Yankees on October 2, 2021. The last time they hit five homers at Tropicana Field came against the Baltimore Orioles on August 16, 2021.
With the win the Rays become the first team to open a season with seven consecutive wins since the 2016 Baltimore Orioles started 7-0. It’s the longest win streak for the Rays since they won 11 in a row from May 13 through 24, 2021. According to Stats LLC, the Rays are the first major league team to win each of their first seven games of a season by 4 or more runs since the 1994 St. Louis Maroons.
Zach Eflin (2-0, 3.27 ERA) picks up the win for the Rays who were backed by fivehomers including a grand slam by Isaac Paredes.
Ken Waldichuk (0-2, 14.54 ERA) takes the loss for Oakland who fall to 2-5 on the season. Oakland has now dropped five of their last six games after defeating the Los Angeles Angels 2-1 on Opening Day.
Eflin Navigates Through Traffic:
In his first start of the season Rays starter Zach Eflin encountered very little resistance allowing just a single run to the Detroit Tigers in five innings. In that start he allowed just three hits and needed just 74 pitches of which 57 were strikes. On Friday night, he had to navigate through much more traffic against the Athletics but thanks to solid defense behind him he was able to limit the damage to just three earned runs.
Overall, he worked six innnings allowing the three earned runs on nine hits while striking out seven and walking none. He threw 82 pitches with 60 for strikes. The six innings marks his longest outing since June 14, 2022 and the most pitches he’s thrown in a game since June 9, 2022 both while a member of the Philadelphia Phillies.
He allowed a solo homer to Ryan Noda in the third inning. It was the first homer allowed by a Rays starter in 34.0 innings to open the season. It was the longest streak of not allowing a homer in franchise history, eclipsing the 27.0 inning mark set by the 2000 Rays.
Waldichuk Roughed Up, Oller Saves Pen:
Athletics starter Ken Waldichuk was ineffecitve allowing eight earned runs on eight hits in just three innings of work while striking out three and walking three. He threw 71 pitches with only 38 for strikes and allowed four homers. Adam Oller took over for Waldichuk and worked the final five innings allowing just one earned run on a homer to Wander Franco. The performance saves the taxed Athletics bullpen.
Zach Eflin gave up four hits in the second inning but thanks to Jose Siri’s strong throw to nab Ramon Laureano at home he was able to limit the damage to just the single run.
The Rays answered in the bottom of the second inning to score six runs. The first pitch of the inning saw Harold Ramirez belt his second homer in as many games to tie the game at 1-1.
Ramirez Second Homer In As Many Games:
Manuel Margot followed Ramirez’s homer with a walk and moved to third on a single by Jose Siri. The throw went to third and Siri hustled into second base. Siri has now hit safely in each of the six games he’s appeared in this season. Christian Bethancourt drew a walk to load the bases for Taylor Walls who patiently took his walk to give Tampa Bay an easy run and a 3-1 lead.
Athletics starter Ken Waldichuk appeared as if he might get out of the inning after striking out two unlikely candidates in Yandy Diaz and Wander Franco. Isaac Paredes bailed both Diaz and Franco out by delivering his second career grand slam pushing the Rays lead to 6-3.
It was Paredes second career grand salm and the first with the Rays. He first grand slam came as a member of the Detroit Tigers off Cleveland’s Adam Plutko on August 21, 2020.
Paredes Second Career Grand Slam:
Oakland chipped into the Rays lead in the top of the 3rd inning on a solo homer by Ryan Noda, his second of the season.
The Rays led off the third inning, like the second inning, with a solo homer. This one was hit by Manuel Margot, his first of the year pushing the Rays lead to 7-2. After Jose Siri struckout looking Christian Bethancourt belted his first homer of the year extending the lead to 8-2.
Oakland cut into the lead with a single run in the fifth inning on an Aledmys Diaz double and a solo homer by Shane Langeliers in the seventh.
Wander Franco capped the Rays scoring and homer barrage with a solo shot in the bottom of the eighth, his third of the season, to push the Rays lead to 9-4.
Oakland added a run in the ninth inning off Jason Adam on a walk, a hit by pitch, and a RBi single capped the scoring.
Up Next For Rays:
The Tampa Bay Rays and Oakland Athletics play the middle game of their weekend series Saturday afternoon at 4:10 pm. Jeffrey Springs (1-0, 0.00 ERA) makes his second start of the season for Tampa Bay while the Athletics counter with right hander Shintaro Fujinami (0-1, 30.86 ERA).