Rays host Jays, Braves to open '20 schedule

July 7th, 2020

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays are looking for their second straight trip to the postseason, and with Major League Baseball releasing the 60-game regular-season schedule Monday, they now know who they play -- and when -- in order to achieve that goal.

Tampa Bay’s season starts on July 24 against Toronto at Tropicana Field. The Rays open the season with a five-game homestand, three against the Blue Jays and two against the Braves. The regular season is scheduled to end on Sept. 27 with the finale of a three-game series against the Phillies, also at the Trop.

The most notable part of the Rays’ schedule is that it is composed entirely of matchups against their four American League East foes as well as all five National League East teams, which figures to make for a very difficult slate.

“Atlanta and Washington speak for themselves for what they accomplished last year,” said Rays manager Kevin Cash. “There are more than enough challenges throughout the National League East.”

The schedule breakdown includes 10 games apiece against the Yankees, Orioles, Red Sox and Blue Jays, making up 40 of the 60 games. The Rays also have two three-game series against the Marlins, one at Marlins Park and the other at Tropicana Field.

Tampa Bay will play a unique four-game series against the Braves during the first week of the season, which includes two games in each city. The Rays play the Nationals and Mets on the road, with neither team making a return trip.

A three-city, 10-game trip in mid-August appears to be the biggest challenge for the Rays. Tampa Bay starts the trip with a four-game set against Boston, then the team flies to Toronto for three games and finishes it off with three games in the Bronx. The only day off during the trip comes on Aug. 17, right before the three-game set against the Yankees.

“Under these circumstances or under any circumstances, four games in Boston, three in Toronto and three in New York, that’s a handful,” Cash said. “Hopefully, we’ll be well-equipped, well-prepared and play good, because we’re going to have to. You certainly understand that with 60 games, a tough 10-day road trip can really throw you sideways if another team is playing really well.”

With the safety and health protocols in place, traveling will look differently this season. The Rays have had conversations about the size of the traveling party, including possibly leaving a pitcher behind in St. Petersburg if they won’t be slated to pitch. With the way the schedule worked out, that might only be possible in September when the Rays take a two-game trip to Washington.

Off-days will also look different, as players will be encouraged to stay in their hotel room as much as possible. Tyler Glasnow and Charlie Morton have said that the players will have to look out for each other and make sure everybody is following the proper protocol.

For the coaches, Cash said the staff will have a lot of meetings in their hotel rooms and get even more familiar with watching shows and movies on Netflix. It’ll all look different, but the schedule being released heightens the excitement of Opening Day being near.

“I hope we get some things together and get on the field and get ready to go,” said Rays outfielder Hunter Renfroe. “I’m excited to see how they’re going to structure things as far as the games and how they structure flights and stuff like that. I’m excited to get going, and it adds a little bit more excitement that the schedule comes out today.”