ST. PETERSBURG (WDAE) -- Blake Snell gave up three home runs in his six innings of work, including a three-run blast by George Springer that proved to be the difference, as the Tampa Bay Rays dropped their Opening Day contest to the Houston Astros 5-1 Thursday at Tropicana Field.
Tampa Bay waited no time to get on the scoreboard, as Austin Meadows led off the bottom of the first inning by blasting a solo homer off Justin Verlander. Meadows becomes the first Rays player to lead off the season at home by hitting a home run, and is just the second Tampa Bay player to start the first inning on Opening Day with a homer, following Gerald Williams who led off Opening Day 2000 in Minneapolis with a home run off Brad Radke of the Twins.
Snell worked a quick first two innings, but walked Robinson Chirinos worked a leadoff walk to begin the third, and the lefty also walked Jake Marisnick two batters later to bring up Springer, who took a fastball down the middle of the plate and sent it high off the batters eye in center for his first home run of the year, giving Houston the lead for good.
Michael Brantley led off the top of the fourth with a home run deep into the seats in right for his first blast of the year, and Jose Altuve's solo home run with two out in the fifth set the score at 5-1.
Snell (0-1) would end up working through the sixth, allowing the five runs on six hits total, walking two and striking out three, suffering his first loss since July 12, 2018 when he took the loss in Minnesota against the Twins in his final start before the All-Star break, and his first defeat at home since May 8 of last year against Atlanta. Jalen Beeks would throw three innings of scoreless relief, finishing out the game and saving the bullpen.
Meanwhile, Verlander (1-0) allowed a base hit to Tommy Pham following the Meadows home run in the first, but gave up just one other hit in his seven innings of work. He walked one and struck out nine.
Ryan Pressly worked a scoreless eighth, and Roberto Osuna finished out the ninth to close the game.
Tampa Bay will look to even the series Friday, as Charlie Morton takes on Gerrit Cole. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10, with coverage on WDAE beginning at 6:00 with The Inside Pitch presented by Crown Eurocars.
Tampa Bay Rays vs. Houston Astros, 7:10 first pitch
Rays Starter: RHP Charlie Morton (15-3, 3.13 ERA in 2018)
Astros Starter: RHP Gerrit Cole (15-5, 2.88 ERA in 2018)
Saturday: vs. Houston Astros, 6:10 pm first pitch
Sunday: vs. Houston Astros, 1:10 pm first pitch
Monday: vs. Colorado Rockies, 7:10 pm first pitch
Tuesday: vs. Colorado Rockies, 7:10 pm first pitch
Wednesday: vs. Colorado Rockies, 1:10 pm first pitch