On Thursday afternoon in the 2023 season opener, Tampa Bay rang in the new season by earning a victory in just about the most Rays way possible -- great pitching, strong defense and just enough offense.
The Rays will try again Saturday afternoon when they host the Detroit Tigers in the second game of a three-game series in St. Petersburg, Fla.
However, it will be hard to top Thursday's 4-0 shutout of the Tigers.
Each side managed just six hits, two being homers by Tampa Bay's Jose Siri and Wander Franco. Right fielder Manuel Margot likely saved two runs with the Rays up 3-0 in the seventh by making a brilliant, two-out diving catch.
The major difference came from ace Shane McClanahan's six scoreless innings and a bullpen that yielded very little.
"He had a couple of errant fastballs up, but you'd expect that on Opening Day," Cash said. "He gave us a start that we will never complain about -- six innings, no runs. We'll sign up for it every night.
"The starting pitching sets the tone. Mac did that. ... (Usually) we're going to get some guys on base and come up with some big hits and play pretty clean baseball behind our pitchers."
Newcomer Zach Eflin will be tasked in taking the baton from McClanahan and matching the performance.
Starting his eighth season and making his first career appearance against Detroit, the right-hander was 3-5 with a 4.04 ERA in 20 games (13 starts) for the Philadelphia Phillies last year.
Tigers manager A.J. Hinch received a strong early showing Thursday from No. 1 pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez, but the Rays were able to get to the left-hander and scratch out two more runs for a 3-0 lead that was more than enough.
After missing all of 2022 while recovering from Tommy John surgery, Spencer Turnbull will be the next starter up for Detroit.
His last outing was June 4, 2021, against the Chicago White Sox -- less than a month after no-hitting the Seattle Mariners.
In his lone appearance against Tampa Bay, Turnbull turned in a performance very similar to Detroit's on Thursday.
On June 5, 2019, in Detroit, he took the loss after tossing five innings and yielding three runs on three hits in a 4-0 defeat. He fanned four and walked three.
During spring training, Turnbull said he battled some nerves when he stepped back on the mound in the Grapefruit League.
"Definitely a little nervous," Turnbull said after his first outing. "I felt like a baby deer out there, but it was good to be back out there."
To open the final season of his Hall of Fame career, Miguel Cabrera went 1-for-4 with a double, showing the quick bat he still possesses at 39.
That leaves Cabrera two shy of tying Tris Speaker (1,134) for 16th on the all-time extra-base hits list. He sits two homers from equaling former teammate Gary Sheffield (509) for 26th all-time.
Prior to Saturday's middle matchup, the Rays are expected to honor Cabrera's outstanding career with a video tribute.
"He wants to win," Hinch said. "At the end of the day, he's always going to shift it back towards our team and our performance, what he can do to help."
--Field Level Media