Baseball season is finally here! After a months-long lockout and a shortened spring training, it's finally time for Opening Day.
Time to turn it up pic.twitter.com/Ko8F4f8T5T
— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) April 4, 2022
The Tampa Bay Rays are hoping for a fourth consecutive playoff appearance after being eliminated by the Boston Red Sox in the American League Division Series last season.
The team yet again finds itself in what is likely the toughest division in baseball, with the New York Yankees expected to be a threat again and the emergence of the powerful Toronto Blue Jays dominating headlines, and the Red Sox not far behind.
However, it's a different American League East team, the Baltimore Orioles, that the Rays draw in the opening series of 2022.
The Orioles have had a rough stretch of years, having finished dead last in the division in each of the last four full seasons, and failing to crack 55 wins in three of those. They are expected to finish at the bottom of the division again this year, but that doesn't mean the Rays are going to take Opening Day for granted.
The Rays are giving the ball to left-handed pitcher Shane McClanahan to start the season. The 24-year-old is entering his second season. In his rookie campaign, McClanahan threw 123.1 innings, posting a 10-6 record and a 3.43 ERA. He also logged an impressive 141 strikeouts in that time.
The Orioles will trot out John Means, making his second straight Opening Day start. Last year, he threw seven one-hit innings against the Red Sox in a win.
Tampa Bay was about as dominant as you can possibly be against Baltimore last year, going 18-1 against the O's in 19 games.
If you're heading to Tropicana Field for Opening Day Friday, first pitch is at 3:10 p.m, with parking lots opening at 11:10 a.m. and gates opening at 1:10 p.m.
The Rays home opener is sold out for the 16th consecutive season (excluding 2020 when fans were not allowed in).
Tampa Bay starts the year with seven home games in a row before hitting the road and heading to Chicago.