No need to have Sergio Romo open for Blake Snell. The Rays’ lefty struck out the first seven batters he faced in Sunday’s start against the Mariners, retiring Dee Gordon, Jean Segura, Mitch Haniger, Nelson Cruz, Kyle Seager, Ryon Healy, and Guillermo Heredia on strikes. Denard Span broke the streak, grounding out to second base for the second out of the third inning.
Seven straight strikeouts to open a game ties an American League record also held by Joe Cowley (White Sox, 1986) and Carlos Rodon (White Sox, 2016).
The modern record is held by Jim Deshaies (Astros, 1986) and Jacob deGrom (Mets, 2014), who each struck out eight consecutive batters to open a game.
Despite Snell’s effort, the Rays still lost 2-1. Snell tossed six scoreless innings, giving up just two hits with no walks and 12 strikeouts, lowering his ERA to 2.36 in the process.
Roger Clemens will be an analyst for ESPN when the defending World Series champion Houston Astros host the Chicago White Sox on opening day.
Clemens made four appearances on last year’s KayRod Cast with Michael Kay and Alex Rodriguez. He will be stepping in on March 30 for David Cone, who will be doing the New York Yankees opener against the San Francisco Giants on YES Network.
“Roger has been sort of a friend of ours for the last year, so to speak, he’s in. He’s been engaged, knowledgeable and really present,” said ESPN Vice President of Production Phil Orlins. “You know, whatever past may be, he’s still tremendously engaged and he really brought that every time he was with us.”
Clemens was a seven-time Cy Young winner but his career after baseball has been tainted by allegations of performance-enhancing drug use. He is a Houston native and pitched for the Astros for three seasons.
Orlins said that with the rules changes and pitch clock, it is important to have a pitcher in the booth with Karl Ravech and Eduardo Perez.
“We don’t feel like we have to have the dynamic of Eduardo with a pitcher, but we certainly think that works. Throw in the added factor of rule changes and it is better to have a batter-pitcher perspective,” Orlins said.
Orlins did not say if this would open the door for future opportunities for Clemens as an ESPN analyst.