Zach Eflin Unravels In Sixth, Blue Jays Earn Opening Day Win Over Rays 8-2

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Rays Fall To Jays 8-2, Eflin Unravels in 6th
(AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

St. Petersburg, Florida – Zach Eflin entered the sixth inning holding the Toronto Blue Jays to just one hit, but allowed five hits including a pair of homers in the sixth inning as the Jays scored five runs on their way to a 8-2 Opening Day victory over the Tampa Bay Rays.

Eflin (0-1, 9.53 ERA) worked 5.2-innings allowing six earned runs on six hits while striking out five and walking one. He allowed solo homers to George Springer, Cavan Biggio, and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. The three home runs allowed were the most allowed by Elfin in a start as member of the Rays. His career high for home runs us four (two times) in a game, most recently on June 20, 2021 while a member of the Philadelphia Phillies.

Eflin was disappointed with the results of his first opening day start but loved making the start. “It was awesome, honestly. I grew up a Rays fan. Just to be in this moment and have the ball in the first inning it means the world to me and my family.” Eflin said. “Sucks I had to give it up in the sixth inning, that’s the game of baseball.”

Jose Berrios (1-0, 3.00 ERA) worked six innings allowing a pair of earned runs on six hits while striking out six and walking one. He allowed a leadoff homer to Yandy Diaz before settling in. Diaz accounted for both runs against Berrios as he doubled in the sixth inning to drive in Rene Pinto.

It was quite the game for Yandy Diaz who put a charge into the sold-out crowd (25,025) by lining a homer into the left field stands to open the game. It marks the 12th time in Diaz’s career that he has homered to open a ballgame. His last leadoff homer came last September 23 against Hyun Jin-Ryu and the Toronto Blue Jays. It was the second time in Rays franchise history that the leadoff hitter hit a homer on opening day. Austin Meadows also homered against Justin Verlander and the Houston Astros to open the 2019 season.

Diaz was a triple shy of the cycle and had his first multi-hit game of 2024 (3-for-4, 2R, 2RBI) after delivering 53 such games in 2023. The Rays franchise record for multi-hit games in a single season is Carl Crawford who had 59 such games in 2006. The Rays franchise leader for multi-hit games is also Carl Crawford with 444. Diaz is 8th in franchise history with 167 multi-hit games which is a long way off from Crawford. However, Diaz is approaching Fred McGriff who is in 7th place with 176 such games.

Shawn Armstrong ended the Jays rally in the 6th but allowed a pair of runs in the seventh . Garrett Cleavinger didn’t allow a run but he certainly labored in finding the strike zone in the eighth walking three batters. Phil Maton made his Rays debut working a scoreless ninth.

Ahmed Rosario made his debut for Tampa Bay pinch hitting for Richie Palacios in the 9th and doubled.

Trevor Richards, Nate Pearson, and Tim Mayza each worked a scoreless inning to preserve the win for Toronto.

Up Next For Rays:

Tampa Bay and Toronto play the second game of their four game series on Friday night at 6:50 p.m. Tampa Bay will send Aaron Civale to the mound and the Blue Jays will counter with right handed pitcher Chris Bassitt.