Opening Day At Tropicana Field (Tom Layberger)

Tampa Bay Rays Lose 2024 Opener To Toronto

Opening Day At Tropicana Field (Tom Layberger)
Opening Day At Tropicana Field (Tom Layberger)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – What is there not to like about Opening Day? Fathers and sons playing catch in the parking lot, where hot dogs and hamburgers were grilled and acquaintances renewed.

Inside Tropicana Field, the obligatory bunting and MLB’s Opening Week logo marked the occasion as an energized crowd anxious for a new season roared with approval as the hometown heroes were introduced.

As for the game, the start to Thursday afternoon’s curtain riser could not have gone better. Yandy Diaz homered to lead off 2024 for the Tampa Bay Rays, the third such homer in the team’s 27 openers joining Gerald Williams (2000) and Austin Meadows (2019). Zach Eflin, making his first Opening Day start, retired 16 of the first 17 batters he faced.

Unfortunately, the highlights were otherwise limited as the Rays lost to Toronto, 8-2, in front of a sellout crowd of 25,025.

Read: Tampa Bay Rays’ Wander Franco Placed On Admin Leave Until June 1

The one batter among the first 17 Eflin did not retire was George Springer, who homered leading off the fourth. A 1-1 game dissolved into a 6-1 deficit for the Rays as the Blue Jays batted around in a five-run the sixth.

What was an extremely efficient Eflin – 55 pitches in five innings – allowed a pair of solo homers among five hits, walked one, and hit a batter before being relieved by Shawn Armstrong in that decisive sixth. One of the home runs off Eflin was a titanic shot by Vladimir Guerrero, Jr., a blow that went over the batter’s eye in center field at an estimated 450 feet.

The Rays, who fell to 14-13 all-time on Opening Day, will send Aaron Civale to the mound Friday night (6:50) for the second game of this four-game, season-opening series. He will be opposed by Chris Bassitt.

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