Zach Eflin Sharp In Debut, Rays Trounce Tigers 12-2

Diaz and Franco Each Drive In Three

Tampa Bay Rays' Yandy Diaz, right, runs past Detroit Tigers catcher Eric Haase, left, to score during the third inning of a baseball game Saturday, April 1, 2023, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Scott Audette)
(AP Photo/Scott Audette)

St. Petersburg, FL – The Tampa Bay Rays erupted for seven runs in the third inning on their way to a 12-2 drubbing of the Detroit Tigers on Saturday.

With the win the Rays open the season 2-0 and will look for the series sweep on Sunday afternoon.

Zach Eflin (1-0, 1.80 ERA) picked up the win for Tampa Bay who start the season 2-0. Eflin, making his Rays debut, worked five innings allowing one earned run on three hits while striking out five and walking one. He threw 74 pitches with 57 for strikes.

Spencer Turnbull (0-1, 27.00 ERA) struggled while making his first start in the big leagues since June 4, 2021. He spent the 2022 season rehabbing from the dreaded Tommy John surgery. The loss marked the first time the Tigers have dropped the first two games of the season since 2018. They were swept in a three games series by the Pittsburgh Pirates before notching their first win of the 2018 season.

Randy Arozarena delivered an RBI double in the first inning to give the Rays the early 1-0 lead. Wander Franco followed with a walk to load the bases. With the bases loaded and nobody out it looked as if the Rays were on their way to a big inning but Luke Raley struck out and Jose Siri grounded into a double play.

The Rays broke the game open in the third inning sending 13 men to the plate and scoring seven runs. Jose Siri got the scoring started with a 2-RBI double. After a Taylor Walls walk, Josh Lowe doubled in two more runs. Lowe scored on a Francisco Mejia single ending the afternoon for Tigers starter Spencer Turnbull.

Turnbull was replaced by Trey Wingenter who uncorked a wild pitch to allow Mejia to move to second base. The advancement came into play as Yandy Diaz delivered a grounds rule double to plate Mejia. Diaz scored the final run of the inning on a Wander Franco single.

Miguel Cabrera delivered an RBI single in the top of th fourth inning to cut the Rays lead to 8-1. The Tigers run ended a string of 12 scoreless frames by Rays pitchers to open the year. According to Elias it’s the second longest streak in club history behind the 15.0 innings logged by the 2021 staff.

Brandon Lowe departed the game in the fourth inning with a right toe contusion. “He’s fine, fouled a ball off his big toe, took him out of the game, probably going to have tomorrow off anyway,” Manager Kevin Cash said. “I would expect that he’ll be fully available for us [Sunday] and then start on Monday.”

“Had it checked out, everything looks fine, looks o.k. It didn’t make sense to make try and make it any worse.” Lowe said. “Postseason game or something that’s later in the year, I’m still in there. It just made sense to take precautions.:

Yandy Diaz hit his first homer of the season, a two run shot, in the bottom of the fourth to extend the Rays lead to 10-1. The homers exit velocity wsa 112.8 miles per hour, the secon-hardest hit longball of his career trailing only the 114.3 mph homer he hit against the Yankees on May 11, 2019. Diaz finished the day a triple shy of the cycle reaching basd four times with a walk, single, double, and the homer.

Kevin Kelly made his big league debut in the sixth inning and allowed an RBI single to Austin Meadows. That was the only run allowed by Kelly in two innings of work.

Wander Franco drove in two more runs in the bottom of the seventh to put the Rays up 12-2. Like Diaz, Franco reached base four times with a walk, a pair of doubles, and a single. He becomes just the second Rays player in franchise history to have 5 or more hits and 4 or more RBi in the teams first two games. He joins Vinny Castilla (2001, 5H & 5RBI). Franoco and Carlos Correa are the only shortstops to have that particular combination since 2010.

Garrett Cleavinger worked a scoreless eighth and Calvin Faucher finished the Tigers off in the ninth.

Rays And Tigers Finish Series Sunday:

Tampa Bay and Detroit will conclude their three game series Sunday afternoon at 1:10 pm. Jeffrey Springs will start for the Rays and Detroit counters with left-hander Joey Wentz.

Tampa Bay will meet the Tigers in Detroit for a three games series August 4th through 6th.

The Rays will head on the road for the first time in 2023 as they head to Washington D.C. to take on the Nationals in a three game series starting Monday evening.

The Tigers will leave Tropicana Field and head to Houston to take on the Astros starting Monday evening.

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I am a fan of all sports but am most passionate about baseball. From the fanatical to analytical, nothing about the game escapes me. Being born and raised in Northeast Ohio I'm very familiar with the heartache and pain that sports can bring and hope that I bring some understanding of the other side to my coverage. I will focus mostly on baseball but also cover the Tampa Bay Lightning, one of the most electric franchises in all of sports. Always willing to converse about any sport and have only one rule and that is be respectful at all times.