ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Isaac Paredes hit a grand slam during Tampa Bay’s six-run second inning, and Rays beat the Oakland Athletics 9-5 on Friday night to extend their season-opening win streak to seven games.
The Rays are the first major league team to win each of their first seven games by four or more runs since the 1884 St. Louis Maroons of the Union Association, according to STATS LLC. The Maroons’ season-opening stretch went 13 games. No other big league team has had a run of more than four.
Harold Ramírez, Manuel Margot, Christian Bethancourt and Wander Franco also homered for Tampa Bay. The Rays’ 18 homers are the most through seven games in team history.
“Can we keep it up?” Rays manager Kevin Cash said with a laugh. “I think we’ve got to be very pleased with everybody in the lineup is contributing. ”
Tampa Bay’s Zach Eflin (2-0), who signed a $40 million, three-year contract in the offseason, gave up three runs over six innings. The deal was the largest free-agent agreement in franchise history.
“What an awesome game, getting that huge six-run inning,” Eflin said. “Kind of let me coast a little bit. Just a great night.”
Eflin stayed in after Ramon Laureano’s infield single in the sixth went off his foot. The right-hander started a nifty inning-ending 1-6-3 double play on the next pitch to Jace Peterson.
“I didn’t feel anything, honestly,” Eflin said. “Probably got my metal spike. Everything is perfect.”
Oakland got solo homers from Ryan Noda and Shea Langeliers. The Athletics have lost five of seven.
Ramírez had a leadoff homer and Paredes went deep off Ken Waldichuk (0-2) in the second as the Rays went up 6-1. Waldichuk walked three in the inning but recorded consecutive strikeouts before Paredes connected on his second career slam.
“The second inning, it’s kind of the storyline,” Oakland manager Mark Kotsay said. “He couldn’t command the breaking ball for a strike. Couldn’t command the fastball, and made mistakes when he had to come to the middle of the plate.
“This team, when you make mistakes in the middle of the plate they’re going to make you pay for it.”
Tampa Bay opened an 8-2 lead on third-inning homers by Margot and Bethancourt.
The Rays have outscored their opponent 53-17 this season.
Waldichuk, whose ERA went from 9.53 to 14.54 after his three-inning outing, has allowed seven homers over 8 2/3 innings in his two starts this year.
Adam Oller replaced Waldichuk and allowed one run – Franco’s eighth-inning homer – over five innings.
Athletics RHP Shintaro Fujinami (0-1, 30.86 ERA) will make his second major league second start on Saturday after pitching for 10 years in Japan. He allowed eight runs, the most by an Oakland pitcher in his big league debut, over 2 1/3 innings in a 13-1 loss to the Los Angeles Angels last Saturday. LHP Jeffrey Springs (1-0, 0.00 ERA), who went six no-hit innings in his season debut last Sunday against Detroit, pitches for the Rays.