ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Rookie Taj Bradley won his third consecutive start to begin his big league career, and the Tampa Bay Rays set a modern-era MLB record with their 14th consecutive home win to begin a season, beating the Houston Astros 8-3 on Monday night.
Tampa Bay had shared the mark dating to 1901 with the 2009 Los Angeles Dodgers.
It had been first thought that the modern record was 15, held by the 1907 New York Giants. Research by the Elias Sports Bureau found that the Giants forfeited their first home game before the 15-game streak. The forfeit officially counted as a loss.
The longest streak in MLB history was 21 in a row, set the 1880 Chicago White Stockings, who became the Cubs, according to Elias.
The Rays are 20-3 overall. Only the 1911 Detroit Tigers and 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers had better starts at 21-2 since 1901.
“You look on the scoreboard, it seems like there’s a new record broke every day,” Bradley said. “It means a lot. So, it’s like, what’s tomorrow?”
The 22-year-old Bradley (3-0) allowed three runs and four hits with six strikeouts and no walks in five innings at Tropicana Field. In 15⅓ innings this season, the right-hander has struck out 23 and walked two.
Rays shortstop Wander Franco had four hits and made an outstanding recovery catch on Martin Maldonado‘s fifth-inning foul ball down the left-field line when he overran the ball but was able to make the grab with his bare hand.
“The last time I’d seen it, it was when Kevin Mitchell did it when I was in San Francisco,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “That was a real tough play even to catch it and get out to it. And then when he overran it, I guess that’s just a natural reaction to put your other hand out.”
Franco, through an interpreter, said he couldn’t reach the ball with his glove and his hand just happened to be there, and the ball fell right into it.
“I couldn’t believe it until I caught it,” Franco said.
Alex Bregman and Jeremy Pena homered for the Astros, who had a four-game winning streak halted. Mauricio Dubon extended his hitting streak to 18 games.
“It was a rough night,” Baker said.
The Astros were without slugger Yordan Alvarez, who returned to Houston to be examined for neck discomfort. Baker is hopeful Alvarez can avoid the injured list.
Houston second baseman Jose Altuve (fractured right thumb), and outfielders Michael Brantley (right shoulder) and Chas McCormick (lower back) are on the IL.
After Pena had a solo shot in the third, the Rays chased Houston starter Jose Urquidy (1-2) with a four-run outburst in the bottom half to go ahead 6-3.
Randy Arozarena got his second RBI of the game and 24th overall with a sacrifice fly. Urquidy walked two consecutive batters with two outs to load the bases before Josh Lowe had a run-scoring infield single and Christian Bethancourt hit a two-run single.
Urquidy gave up six runs and seven hits in 2⅔ innings.
Dubon tripled on Bradley’s first pitch of the game and scored on Kyle Tucker‘s sacrifice fly. Bregman made it 2-0 later in the first with a solo homer.
Tampa Bay tied it in the bottom half when Arozarena had an RBI triple then came home as Harold Ramirez pushed his hitting streak to 10 games with a double.
Franco and Isaac Paredes each had an RBI single.