Nick Saylor, Staff Writer
Thursday afternoon marked the first contest of the year for the Detroit Tigers and Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays look to return to the postseason again, building off last year's Wild Card appearance, while the Tigers are just looking to improve on their dismal record from last season.
Rays ace and AL Cy Young frontrunner Shane McClanahan toed the slab against craft veteran Eduardo Rodriguez. McClanahan had a lights out 2022 season, posting a 12-8 record with a 2.94 ERA and 194 strikeouts.
Despite a stellar season, McClanahan just missed the Cy Young Award, as veteran and former Tiger Justin Verlander attained the feat again. As for Rodriguez, he had an injury plagued 2022 season, posting a 5-5 record with a 4.05 ERA in only 91 innings.
Zeroes were traded throughout the first two innings. McClanahan and Rodriguez both let up one baserunner each half inning but worked out of each jam with ease.
The scoring started in the third inning. Tampa’s Jose Siri deposited a ball into the left field seats on a 1-1 cutter. The sound of the ball off Siri's bat could tell you everything you needed to know without looking. The ball traveled 393 feet and gave the Rays an early 1-0 lead.
Rays Outfielder Jose Siri, is congratulated after his Home Run in Thursday's game Photo/Ivy Cabello/Tampa Bay Times
The scoring again was put on hold until the bottom of the sixth inning where the Rays started to get to Rodriguez. A walk and a single led to manager A.J. Hinch coming to get E-Rod. Jason Foley came in to attempt to put out the fire.
Foley then let up two hits, plating the two Rodriguez runners on base. This gave the Rays a 3-0 lead. Luke Raley and Randy Arozarena were credited with an RBI single each.
Rodriguez's final line was 5.1 IP, 3H, 3R, 3ER, 5K, and 2BB, which formed a solid outing. E-Rod will look to move forward and stay durable for the Tigers this season.
As for Rodriguez's counterpart, McClanahan, it was another day at the office for him. He turned in six great innings of ball, only surrendering four hits while striking out six. McClanahan is the front runner for the Cy Young, and he showed it with his consistent 100 MPH fastball.
To add salt onto the Tigers wounds, Rays former top prospect and breakout star Wander Franco added another hit onto his day, as he took the ninth pitch of the at-bat against Tigers arm Mason Englert over the wall to give the Rays a 4-0 lead.
With three outs to go, Rays closer and postseason rock Pete Fairbanks came in to close the game out for the Rays, despite an Austin Meadows single (3-4 on the day). Fairbanks eventually slammed the door, getting Nick Maton to roll over to conclude the game.