Austin Meadows’ home run with two outs in the eighth inning was all the Tampa Bay Rays needed, and the reigning AL champions started their season with a 1-0 win over the Miami Marlins on Thursday.
Meadows — who hit 33 homers for the Rays two years ago, then only four in 36 games last season — connected off Miami reliever Yimi Garcia (0-1) on a drive that cleared the 387-foot sign in left-center with ease.
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Ryan Thompson (1-0), the second of four Rays pitchers, worked the seventh for the win. Diego Castillo pitched a perfect ninth for the save.
Jesus Aguilar had two of Miami’s three hits. Aguilar sent a fly ball to the left-field warning track with one out in the ninth, but that was as close as the Marlins got to scoring.
The starters — Miami’s Sandy Alcantara and Tampa Bay’s Tyler Glasnow — were stellar in dueling six-inning performances.
Alcantara got into trouble only once, when a single, a walk and a hit by pitch loaded the bases with two outs in the first inning. He struck out Kevin Kiermaier on three pitches to escape, beginning a stretch in which he retired 16 of the final 18 batters he faced.
Alcantara walked two and struck out seven. It was the third time in Marlins history that an opening day starter went at least six innings and didn’t allow a run — Kevin Brown did it in 1997 and Josh Beckett in 2005.
Glasnow gave up an infield single to Aguilar with two outs in the first and nothing else. The tall right-hander faced only 19 batters and retired 18, the last 16 in a row, and finished with six strikeouts.
Alcantara was pulled after 83 pitches, Glasnow after 76.
Attendance was 7,062. The Marlins are able to operate at 27% capacity; not all tickets were sold, but tickets were sold in every available two- or four-seat pod.
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Rays 1B Ji-Man Choi (right knee surgery) and OF Brett Phillips (left hamstring strain) were played on the 10-day injured list. Marlins RHP Sixto Sanchez, who was optioned earlier in the week, had right shoulder discomfort Wednesday.
Tampa Bay is 12-12 on opening day. Miami fell to 12-17 in openers, and hasn’t started 1-0 in consecutive seasons since 2004 and 2005.
Marlins manager Don Mattingly got vaccinated Thursday, he said, and most members of his coaching staff have been as well. Most Marlins players will begin that process in the coming days.
LHP Ryan Yarbrough (1-4, 3.56 ERA in 2020) goes Friday for Tampa Bay against Miami RHP Pablo Lopez (6-4, 3.61).