ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — When you get past all the pomp of opening day to the circumstance, winning the game is what matters most.
The Rays did that on Thursday, beating the Tigers, 4-0, in pretty much the style they hope will carry them throughout the next six months.
Shane McClanahan delivered a dominant six-inning start. The Rays grabbed an early lead on a Jose Siri home run, then added on with clutch hits by Randy Arozarena and pinch-hitter Luke Raley in the sixth, and a homer by Wander Franco in the eighth.
They got a great defensive play, right fielder Manuel Margot making an all-out running and diving catch to end a two-on Tigers rally in the seventh. And three relievers combined for the final nine outs. All before a Tropicana Field sellout crowd of 25,025.
As a result, the Rays opened a season of great expectations — in essence, World Series or bust — in a good way.
McClanahan allowed four hits and one walk over six innings, and struck out six. He also was efficient enough to get through the sixth, having thrown 79 pitches over five innings and only eight more to complete the additional inning.
Siri delivered the Rays’ last run of the 2022 season — a home run in the opening game of their two-game sweep by the Guardians in the American League wild-card series — and their first of 2023, with his third-inning shot to left off Detroit starter Eduardo Rodriguez.
The Rays added on in the sixth when Yandy Diaz drew a leadoff walk and former Tiger Isaac Paredes singled with one out. Detroit brought in right-hander Jeremy Foley, and Arozarena greeted him with a single that scored pinch-runner Taylor Walls. Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash then used Raley, the lefty swinger who made the team with a hot spring, to hit for DH Harold Ramirez, and Raley delivered an RBI single.
Margot made the defensive play of the game in the seventh after Miguel Cabrera, the Tigers star who is retiring after this season, doubled and Jonathan Schoop walked off with two outs off reliever Colin Poche. Margot raced toward the foul line to snare a drive by Ryan Kreidler.
Franco homered in the eighth.