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Rays’ Ryan Yarbrough’s progress starting to show

Rays notes | Starting Game 2 is an acknowledgement of improvement, but he has more work to do.
Ryan Yarbrough will start the Rays' second game of the regular season Friday in Miami.
Ryan Yarbrough will start the Rays' second game of the regular season Friday in Miami. [ JOHN BAZEMORE ]
Published Apr. 2
Updated Apr. 2

MIAMI — The progress Ryan Yarbrough has made over four seasons with the Rays can be measured in many ways.

One obvious one? His ascension from primarily pitching behind an opener to a full-time spot in the rotation with the responsibility of shouldering a heavy workload and starting the second game of the season, which he will do Friday night.

“Obviously, there’s been a lot of work been put in over the years,” Yarbrough said.

Related: For Rays fans, opener in Miami well worth the trip

“A lot of people have helped get me to this point, especially with the Rays and helped give me my development over the years to be able to be like this. So I’m feeling really blessed. But at the same time, still got a lot of work to do.”

Yarbrough got a win as a reliever last season but has a team record-tying 17-start winless streak, dating to Aug. 11, 2019.

Another issue Friday will be hitting. With an 0-for-3 career mark, he has a simple plan: “Just make contact. I mean, let’s not over-complicate things.”

Backed up

Tyler Glasnow wasn’t sure what happened or why his back tightened up just before Thursday’s start. While obviously pleased he was able to pitch through it — and pitch well — he was disappointed he didn’t really get to hit after looking forward to it and talking about it with coaches for weeks. But Glasnow decided, smartly, he couldn’t risk taking swings during his two at-bats. Instead, he stood at the plate — “statue-ing,” he called it — and struck out on five pitches both times. “’I was so excited to swing,” he said. “And then (Thursday) I was like, ‘All right, I’m not going to be able to.’ Unfortunate.” Manager Kevin Cash praised Glasnow for finding a way to get through six innings. “Two years ago, I don’t know if he’s able to manage that that way,” Cash said. “He’s certainly come a long way and understanding his body and understanding how much he means to our club.”

About 1-0 wins

This was the 37th 1-0 win in Rays franchise history, 13th with the run coming on a homer and first on opening day. (They had only one previous shutout win in an opener, 7-0 in 2000 at Minnesota.) … Going into Thursday, there had been 43 1-0 opening-day wins overall in modern history (since 1901), 16 by road teams. The last American League team to win 1-0 on the road was the 1946 Indians, at Chicago, with Bob Feller starting. ... This was the second 1-0 win in an interleague opener, the Rangers beating the Rockies last year.

TV troubles

Opening day was a frustrating event for Rays fans who couldn’t watch because Bally Sports Sun (formerly Fox Sports Sun) isn’t carried by their provider, such as Frontier cable, Hulu or YouTube TV. “We understand that many fans across Tampa Bay are unable to watch Rays baseball due to the current carriage dispute between Sinclair Broadcast Group (which owns Bally) and select providers,” team president Matt Silverman said. “We are very pleased that Spectrum carries Bally Sports Sun, and we support Bally Sports Sun working with all providers to make Rays baseball available in every home in Tampa Bay.”

Miscellany

The Rays are 12-12 in openers. Thursday was their first on the road since 2009, ending a streak of 11 straight, and first against an NL team. … With 7,062 fans, the stadium was at about 27-percent capacity, and Cash said they appreciated all of them: “We’ll take whatever percentage these ballparks or cities allow. It’s just a different game. It’s a better game with our fans.” …. The Rays have shut out the Marlins in three of their last four games in Miami.

Staff writer John Romano contributed to this report.

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