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Orioles Opening Day game thread: at Rays, 3:10

The Orioles went 1-18 against the Rays last year. Today they have a chance to start out 1-0.

Baltimore Orioles v Toronto Blue Jays
“I feel good about John Means as the Orioles #1 starter” is not something anyone would have imagined three years ago.
Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

We’re finally here! It’s Opening Day! It’s been more than six months since the Orioles last played a regular season game. For a while over the winter it seemed like we might be waiting even longer than this to get big league baseball back, but here we are, only about a week late, with the O’s starting on the road instead of at home. Not great, but it could be a lot worse.

As bleak as the last few Orioles seasons have been, they’ve done fairly well over their opening few series during Brandon Hyde’s managerial tenure. They swept the Red Sox to start last season. They were 5-3 after three series in 2020, and 4-2 after two series in 2019. The rosters have had plenty of flaws, as this one does, but they’ve come out of the gate strong.

It will be nice if they can manage to continue this trend this year. You already know that the Orioles infamously went 1-18 against the Rays last year. One way they could give an early sign that things are going to be at least a little bit different is to somehow win two out of three of this opening series. Even winning one out of three would not be bad. They’d still have 16 more games to try to win one more and exceed last year’s total.

Here is the Opening Day lineup for the Orioles:

  1. Cedric Mullins - CF
  2. Ryan Mountcastle - 1B
  3. Trey Mancini - DH
  4. Austin Hays - RF
  5. Anthony Santander - LF
  6. Ramón Urías - 2B
  7. Jorge Mateo - SS
  8. Robinson Chirinos - C
  9. Kelvin Gutiérrez - 3B

John Means becomes the first lefty to start consecutive Opening Days for the Orioles since Dave McNally did this all the way back in 1969-71. So... it’s been a while. I hope Means hangs around and is good for long enough to make it three in a row next year, although if the only reason Means isn’t #1 is that Grayson Rodriguez is instead, that would be OK. We have some time before we see what happens there.

Rodriguez is pitching tonight for Norfolk, by the way. The Orioles game should be over with before the Tides begin. With Drew Rom pitching for Bowie and Jean Pinto for Aberdeen, it’s an interesting night for Orioles pitching prospects.

The Rays are sending out these guys to start their season against the Orioles:

  1. Yandy Díaz - 3B
  2. Wander Franco - SS
  3. Harold Ramirez - 1B
  4. Randy Arozarena - LF
  5. Brandon Lowe - 2B
  6. Mike Zunino - C
  7. Josh Lowe - DH
  8. Manuel Margot - RF
  9. Kevin Kiermaier - CF

Baltimore-born lefty Shane McClanahan pitches for Tampa in St. Pete.

The Rays scored 857 runs on the way to winning 100 games last season. They piled up 150 runs against the Orioles alone, which was a big part, though certainly not the only reason, why the Orioles allowed 956 runs on the season. Sheesh. They could have given up 100 fewer runs and still had the worst pitching staff in the league.

When I think about what I would like to see from this Orioles season the most, I’d really just like to finally see some progress. Just enough from the team to believe better times are coming. A few more pitchers who do not suck would go a long way towards that. The Orioles could still be fairly bad while making us feel like they aren’t as bad - especially if the improvement comes in the second half when there are hopefully more prospects on the team.

One easy way they could start is just: Don’t get blown out by the Rays on Opening Day! Or any of the other games in this series. Is that too much to ask? I guess we’ll find out.