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Rays stay dominant over Orioles to kick off new season

Sportsnaut
Apr 8, 2022; St. Petersburg, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Rays right fielder Manuel Margot (13) singles in the second inning against the Baltimore Orioles  at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Pinch hitter Francisco Mejia’s tiebreaking sacrifice fly in the eighth inning lifted the Tampa Bay Rays past the Baltimore Orioles in a 2-1 Opening Day win Friday afternoon in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Tied 1-all in the home half of the eighth, Wander Franco reached base with his third hit, a single off Dillon Tate. Pinch hitter Ji-Man Choi walked, and Randy Arozarena beat out a chopper to load the bases.

After a fielder’s choice at home retired Franco, Mejia came off the bench to drive in Choi with the game-winning run on a lineout to center off Jorge Lopez (0-1).

Franco produced three hits, and Arozarena and Manuel Margot had two each for the Rays, who won their 13th straight game against the Orioles and are 25-2 against them since Aug. 25, 2020.

In his first Opening Day start, Shane McClanahan fired 4 1/3 scoreless innings but left after 68 pitches. The left-hander struck out seven, walked two and allowed four hits.

All-Star Andrew Kittredge (1-0) tossed a scoreless eighth, and lefty Brooks Raley — Tampa Bay’s seventh pitcher — fanned Cedric Mullins on a sweeping 3-2 curve for the save. Rays pitching whiffed 14 batters.

Anthony Santander hit Baltimore’s first home run, one of seven hits for the visitors.

Getting his second straight Opening Day nod, left-hander John Means was effective but yielded one run on six hits in four innings. He fanned five and walked one.

After unveiling an “AL East 2021 Champions” banner near the top of the white-roofed dome, the Rays got on the board in the third inning.

After singles by Yandy Diaz, Franco and Arozarena with one out, Tampa Bay broke through on a sacrifice fly from Brandon Lowe, who drove in 99 runs last season.

McClanahan settled in after a rocky first frame, fanning five over the next two innings before being replaced by JT Chargois with one out in fifth.

Batting against a four-outfielder alignment, Santander hit it over the unusual shift, clubbing a solo shot to straightaway center off Matt Wisler with one out in the sixth.

–Field Level Media