By DICK SCANLON Associated Press
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Tyler Glasnow had a concerning spring training for the Tampa Bay Rays. The gangly, 6-foot-8 right-hander — acquired last July from the Pirates for ace Chris Archer — had some fans worrying his stellar end to 2018 might have been a flash in the pan.
Facing one of the AL’s top lineups to open his regular season, Glasnow was golden once again for the Rays.
Glasnow and four relievers shut down the Houston Astros after Alex Bregman’s first-inning homer, and Tampa Bay won 3-1 Saturday.
“I felt like I started strapping up a bit,” said Glasnow, who went 0-5 in spring training while giving up 15 runs in 13 innings. “There’s just a little extra boost. Everybody’s out there trying to win and your team is counting on you.”
Bregman went deep on his 25th birthday, but Glasnow (1-0) was otherwise excellent, striking out four and allowing six hits over five innings.
“I know everybody was talking about his spring training, and this and that, and not performing as well as he would have liked. He certainly performed well tonight,” manager Kevin Cash said.
Ryne Stanek followed with two hitless innings, and Jose Alvarado pitched a perfect ninth for his second save.
Astros starter Collin McHugh (0-1) struck out nine and allowed two runs over five innings in his return to the rotation. A 19-game winner in 2015, McHugh was moved to the bullpen last season due to Houston’s rotation depth.
McHugh didn’t allow a hit until Yandy Diaz’s leadoff double in the fifth. Kevin Kiermaier drove in Diaz with a two-out double, and Michael Perez made it 2-1 with a single, the third and final hit off McHugh.
“I don’t underrate them. They’re a good team,” McHugh said. “I’ve been coming into this place for six years now and it’s hard to win here. What they do well is grind. They don’t quit. They’re deep in terms of their pitching.”
Tommy Pham drove in Tampa Bay’s final run with a single in the eighth off Chris Devenski. It marked the 35th straight game in which Pham has reached base.
Singles by Jose Altuve and Michael Brantley and a walk loaded the bases for the Astros in the eighth, but right fielder Avisail Garcia ran down Josh Reddick’s line drive off Adam Kolarek for the third out.
“They did a lot more with their opportunities than we did,” Houston manager AJ Hinch said. “One run and eight hits, it’s tough to win in this ballpark.”
13 MORE STRIKES AGAINST THEM
The Rays struck out 13 times, raising their three-game total to 38. In the last two seasons, the Rays have won six nine-inning games while striking out 13 or more times, and four of those have been against Houston.
Rays first baseman Ji-Man Choi fielded a sharp groundball by Tony Kemp in the second inning and threw to second base to start a double play, much to the surprise of shortstop Joey Wendle, since there were two outs. Asked if he would fine Choi, Cash replied: “No, but I yelled at his translator for not telling him.”
BLUE LIGHT SPECIAL
Tropicana Field is still trying out new blue lights to tint its roof, hoping to make it easier for players to track flyballs. In testing done after Friday’s game, players were still having difficulty tracking balls that went above the lights. “They’re making adjustments and improvements,” Cash said. “Not quite what we’re looking for yet.” The lights are part of a new LED system installed throughout the ballpark.
Astros: SS Carlos Correa (stiff neck) might make his season debut Sunday after going through a complete workout that included batting practice.
Rays: LHP Anthony Banda (Tommy John surgery) is throwing off a mound.
Astros: LHP Wade Miley makes his Astros debut on Sunday.
Rays: Tampa Bay was expected to use an opener for the first time this season, but Cash said Saturday night he will use RHP Yonny Chirinos as a traditional starter.