Houston Astros vs. Tampa Bay Rays Thursday, March 28, 4 p.m. Friday, March 29, 7:10 p.m. Saturday, March 30, 6:10 p.m. Sunday, March 31, 1:10 p.m.
Colorado Rockies vs. Tampa Bay Rays Monday, April 1, 7:10 p.m. Tuesday, April 2, 7:10 p.m. Wednesday, April 3, 1:10 p.m.
Spring is here and that means many things to many different people. To sports fans in Tampa Bay, it means that Major League Baseball is back in action.
For fans of the Tampa Bay Rays, they will get a glimpse of their team at home right away when the team hosts the Houston Astros for a four-game series to open the 2019 season followed by three games at Tropicana Field next week against the Colorado Rockies.
A Look Back:
Playing in one of the toughest divisions in the Major Leagues, the Rays were a surprise contender in the American League East last season, finishing third with a 90-72 record. The Rays finished behind Boston and New York – two playoff teams – in the division but outscored opponents by 70 runs, which was good for the fourth-best run differential in the American League.
Employing an innovative strategy, Rays manager Kevin Cash often sent an opener to the mound at the start of games, utilizing someone who would normally be considered a reliever to get the team through the first inning of play before sending out fellow relief pitchers the rest of the game.
Expect the opener strategy to be in use once again this season for Tampa.
Only three pitching staffs had better ERAs than Tampa last season. Much of that success fell on the left arm of lefty Blake Snell, who put together a CY Young Award-Winning Season with a 21-5 record that went along with a 1.89 ERA. The third-year player allowed only 41 runs (38 earned) in 31 appearances and struck out 221 hitters in 180.2 innings of work.
Offensively, late-season addition Tommy Pham (acquired from St. Louis in a trade), will look to continue his slugging ways, after hitting .343 with seven home runs as a Ray. Kevin Kiermaier on the other hand will look to put an injury-riddled 2018 behind him and drastically improve upon his .217 batting average.
A Look at the Series:
Both Houston and Colorado have high expectations in 2019, and both will look to return to the postseason. Houston won the American League West last season and finished with the second-best record in the American League.
Thanks to a deep rotation of starters, the Astros are a contender to win their second World Series in three years.
Justin Verlander – who finished second in the American League CY Young voting last season – gets the call for Houston against Snell in the opener while Garrett Cole, who finished 15-5 with a 2.88 ERA last year, takes the ball in game two of the four-game series.
Colorado was expected to be in the middle of the pack in the National League West in 2018 but surprised a lot of people by hanging with the Dodgers and Diamondbacks in the division all season long. The Rockies eventually overtook Arizona and went on to finish second in the west, one game behind the Dodgers. That performance earned the Rockies a spot in the Wild Card Game, where they defeated Chicago before losing in the NL Division Series to the Brewers.
Perennial All-Star Nolan Arenado leads the Colorado offense and looks to follow up on a season that saw him slug 38 home runs while hitting .297. Fellow infielder Trevor Story finished right behind Arenado last season with 37 home runs to go along with a .291 batting average.
Kyle Freeland led the Colorado pitching staff in 2018 with a 17-7 record to go along with a 2.85 ERA, while Wade Davis finished second in the Majors with 43 saves.
For the Fans:
What’s new at the “Trop”: New lights and great new food selection are added to the concession choices. Click here for more details.
- March 28: Schedule Magnet presented by Tropicana
- March 29: $7.11 tickets, presented by 7-Eleven
- March 30: Blake Snell Cy Zilla Bobblehead
- March 31: Kevin Kiermaier Replica Jersey
- April 3: $15 Press Level tickets for fans 60 years and older
For Tickets: Click here
How to Watch: Sun Sports/FOX Sports Florida
How to Listen: Local Broadcast: WDAE 620 AM/95.3 FM (all games), WGES 680 (March 28, 29, April 1,2), WLLC 760 (March 30, 31)
Tampa travels west to take on the Giants (April 5-7) before making its way back eat with a series at the White Sox (April 8-10) and against Toronto (April 12-14. The Rays are back home for nine-straight games beginning April 16.
Content and Photos provided by Shawn LaFata and the Tampa Bay Rays
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