ST. PETERSBURG — Marlins RHP Jose Fernandez, proud product of Tampa's Alonso High, began his Thursday homecoming performance by plunking Tampa Bay mascot Raymond, who had ventured too close to the visitors bullpen during warmups.
"He was all over my business," Fernandez said. "I'm trying to concentrate. It was a little change-up that came out of my hand. Just part of the game, man. This is a game, and I love to have fun."
Fernandez, beaten in his first two visits to the Trop, pretty much had his way the rest of the day with the Rays, working seven strong innings, allowing one run, on a Brandon Guyer homer, while striking out 12.
Raymond wasn't the only Ray the 23-year-old had an issue with, yelling into the Rays dugout and eyeballing C Curt Casali after getting out of his one jam, falling behind 2-and-0 with the bases loaded in the fourth.
"Obviously it was a tough situation for me," said Fernandez, an ace-like 7-2, 2.82. "I made a good pitch, then I made another good pitch, and I showed some emotion. I was like, 'Yeah!' I was really happy I got out of it. … I heard something from the dugout. I didn't pay much attention to it. You know, kept trying to do my job, give my team a chance to win."
ON THE OTHER HAND: LHP Drew Smyly didn't give the Rays much of a chance, allowing a pair of two-out, two-run homers that put them in a 5-0 hole on the way to their most lopsided of the season and a 21-24, last-place record in the AL East.
In the second, after giving up an RBI single to cap a frustrating 10-pitch at-bat, then getting in the way of the throw home rather than backing up the play, Smyly gave up a two-run homer to Adeiny Hechavarria on a misplaced curveball. In the third, he walked fill-in RF Cole Gillespie with two outs and, after getting ahead of Chris Johnson with two strikes, gave up another homer on a curve.
"It was just a frustrating outing for me because I thought I could perform better than I did," said Smyly, 2-6, 3.92.
Overall, Rays pitchers allowed a season-high matching 15 hits.
FIRST TIMER: RHP Ryan Garton, a Clearwater native and Mitchell High grad, was thrilled to make his major-league debut in a one-hit seventh. The eighth was not as fun, though, as he allowed five hits and three runs to turn a 5-1 game into an 8-1 blowout. "It was a cool feeling,' he said. "The first inning went by pretty quickly. The next inning just kind of dragged out a little bit."
FORSYTHE IMPROVING: 2B Logan Forsythe has started taking ground balls as he progresses from a fractured left shoulder and is targeting a return during the June 10-19 homestand.
Forsythe, sidelined since being struck by the Mariners' Felix Hernandez pitch on May 9, said he felt good getting back on the field Wednesday and hopes to start swinging a bat early next week.
"Range of motion's back," he said. "Strength's slowly coming. It's like any bone — once it heals, strength will be there with it."
The nature of the fracture makes the recovery time somewhat dependent on pain tolerance, and Forsythe said he had been increasingly improved. He will need a medical re-evaluation and three-four rehab games in the minors.
MISCELLANY: The Rays have lost five of six. … After getting only one single (and eight extra-base hits) in his previous 26 games, OF/DH Corey Dickerson rapped three singles using a simple approach and a wider-barrelled bat borrowed from Steve Pearce. … RHP Brad Boxberger (core muscle repair surgery) will make his sixth and potentially final rehab appearance tonight, for Double-A Montgomery. … Evan Longoria got his second DH day, with Taylor Motter starting at third. … There will be a moment of silence before tonight's game for Tampa Bay Times outdoors writer Terry Tomalin, who died last week.