Rays scrape by Orioles to win opening game

by Gary Shelton on April 9, 2022

in general

Saturday, 3 a.m.

Is it too soon for Wander Franco to ask for a raise?

Certainly, no one on the Tampa Bay Rays is asking Franco, who signed an 11-year, $182-million contract in the off-season, for a rebate. On his first-ever opening day, Franco had three hits, the last one of them leading to the go-ahead run, in the Rays' 2-1 victory over Baltimore.

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This season, Franco's bat may be more important than ever after the departures of Nelson Cruz (free agency Joey Wendle (trade) and Austin Meadows (trade). But if every day looks like Friday, Franco may be ready to carry the load.

"He's pretty good," said Rays' manager Kevin Cash, grinning. "He's going to be all right. He'll be in there tomorrow."

The Rays had to scrape for their win, scoring on sacrifice flies by Brandon Lowe and pinch-hitter Francisco Mejia.

The eighth inning was key for Tampa Bay, which scored its run on a single by Franco, an eight-pitch walk by Ji-Man Choi, an infield single by Randy Arozarena and the sacrifice by Mejia.

"We value Frankie," Cash said. "When he’s hitting, he certainly does a good job putting the ball in play. I know Chad (Mattola) talks to him about patience . We needed something put in play right there.

“I mean, there’s a lot of different characters and they can all get there differently, but there is a lot of athleticism out there. Whether it’s throwing across the infield, running down the line or hitting the ball 450 feet, it’s fun to watch them.”

The Rays used six relief pitchers in the game, the last one being Brooks Ralely (a strikeout) for his first save. Andrew Kittredge got the win. Together, the seven Rays pitchers allowed one run and struck out 14.

The Rays play Baltimore again today at Tropicana Field at 1:10 p.m. Drew Rasmussen will start for the Rays against Jordan Lyles.

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