Welcome to Tropicana Field, the most depressing ballpark in the major leagues. (This coming from a White Sox fan.) Today, the Sox take on the Tampa Bay Rays, who are sitting at three games over .500 (56-53), comfortably in third place in the American League East. This is not the year for a good-not-great team to try to sneak into the playoffs, but the Rays are always innovating to keep things interesting.
Take this whole opener business, for example. Ryne Stanek (former Michael Kenny offseason plan acquisition) is “starting” for the Rays tonight. It’s Stanek’s 17th start of the season, yet he’s pitched just 42 innings. Kevin Cash and his team have somehow managed to break the games started stat completely.
Well, regardless, it’s working. Teams tend to send their best hitters to the plate in the first inning, and the Rays’ 2.97 ERA in the first inning is the second-best in baseball. The Sox’s first-inning ERA is 6.67, second-worst in baseball. Lucas Giolito is bringing that number up with his personal 8.57 mark, and he’ll have to face Kevin Kiermaier, Matt Duffy, Jake Bauers, and (probably) C.J. Cron at the top of the order. Let’s see who sets the tone early tonight.