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Rays History Of Heroics On Opening Day

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With Opening Day here, let’s take a look at the history of heroics that have taken place for the Tampa Bay Rays, as the team has had three walk-off wins to start the year in franchise history.

2003 – Carl Crawford Beats Boston With Blast

Boston jumped on the then-Devil Rays scoring three unearned runs off Tampa Bay starter Joe Kennedy in the top of the first thanks to a pair of errors.  The Red Sox would lead 4-0 going to the home half of the seventh.  An error by Shea Hillenbrand would cut the Boston lead to 4-1 in the seventh, leading to the heroics in the ninth.  Terry Shumpert delivered a pinch-hit two-run blast off Alan Embree in his first at-bat with the Rays, and Crawford ended the game with a three-run shot off Chad Fox.  It remains the only walk-off home run on Opening Day in franchise history.

2010 – CC Comes Through Again To Beat Baltimore

The Orioles had used three solo homers off James Shields — from Adam Jones in the third, Luke Scott in the fourth, and Matt Wieters in the sixth — to get out to and then maintain a two-run lead through five and a half innings.  Evan Longoria‘s solo shot off Kevin Millwood would get the deficit back to a single run, and Baltimore closer Mike Gonzalez would load the bases in the home half of the ninth thanks to a one-out single by Sean Rodriguez, a double by Kelly Shoppach (that missed being the second Opening Day walk-off homer by about a foot), and an intentional walk to Jason Bartlett to bring up Crawford, whose shot down the line would plate a pair and give Tampa Bay the first of 96 victories that year.

2012 – Carlos Pena Is Welcomed Home With A Big Day

After leaving for the Chicago Cubs in 2011, Pena returned to the Rays for the 2012 campaign, and while the season as a whole may have been disappointing for him (he batted just .197 and struck out a career-most 182 times on the year), Opening Day was as sweet as you could get.  The first baseman hit a grand slam in the bottom of the first inning off Yankees starter CC Sabathia after the southpaw intentionally walked Rodriguez to face him.  New York scored six runs off Shields in just five innings, but Pena sent the fans at the Trop home happy on Opening Day with a RBI single off Mariano Rivera for his fifth RBI of the day.

Written By

Steve Carney is the founder and publisher of St. Pete Nine. One of the people most associated with baseball coverage in Tampa Bay, he spent 13 seasons covering the Rays for flagship radio station WDAE, first as producer of Rays Radio broadcasts, then as beat reporter beginning in 2011. He likes new analytics and aged bourbon, and is the owner of one of the ugliest knuckleballs ever witnessed by baseball scouts.

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