Now, this is an impressive opening for the Tampa Bay Rays.

Last year, the Rays pioneered the idea of an “opener” — a pitcher who would work an inning or two at the beginning of the game, facing some of the toughest hitters instead of having a traditional starter do it. Tampa Bay has still used that strategy on occasion in 2019, but that’s just part of the Rays’ strong start to the season.

Tampa Bay (12-4) has baseball’s best record and best run differential. The Rays lead the AL East by 5 ½ games, and if the gap stays that big for a few more days, a home series next weekend against defending champion Boston could start to feel a little more significant than

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