ST. PETERSBURG — Taylor Motter finished Friday's game on the mound, which sums up what kind of night the Rays had against the visiting Tigers.
Drew Smyly pitched better than he had in his prior start, but he was undermined by the defense behind him and the catcher in front of him.
Tigers rookie Michael Fulmer continued his impressive run of starts, allowing just two hits and a walk in seven scoreless innings.
And the Rays bullpen, well, let's just say Motter had a pretty good outing.
Add it up and you have the Tigers rolling to a 10-2 victory that was as easy as the score looks in front of 13,537 at Tropicana Field.
The loss was the third in five games on this homestand for the Rays (33-46). It was also their 14th loss in 16 games.
When asked about the team's play during the past two weeks, Smyly said, "It's pretty frustrating."
When asked about the level of confidence in the clubhouse, Smyly said, "I think every single one of us knows what we're capable of. We just have to go out and do it. No team is going to let us take one. We have to go out and take it ourselves, so it's always going to be up to us. We got to play to our capability and right now we're not."
The bullpen let whatever chance the Rays had of rallying in the later innings get away. Both Danny Farquhar (in the seventh inning) and Enny Romero (in the ninth) allowed three-run homers to Victor Martinez.
"We got to pitch better. We got to attack more," manager Kevin Cash said. "It looks like to me at times we're getting ahead and are not capable of finishing people. And that's not the M.O of this pitching staff, starter, reliever, anything. These guys have a knack for getting ahead and finishing guys off. We're just not doing it at the level we're capable of right now."
Motter replaced Romero with two outs in the ninth inning. It was his first time on the mound as a big leaguer, though he almost made his debut last weekend in Baltimore. He allowed a hit and a retired a batter to finish the inning.
"I got out there and got and out, so I did what I needed to do," he said.
Afterward, Motter was optioned to Durham to make room for Steven Souza Jr., who will be activated today from the disabled list.
Smyly allowed six runs (four earned) in 62/3 innings. An error by shortstop Brad Miller and an adventurous fifth inning by Oswaldo Arcia in rightfield didn't help. Neither did catcher Hank Conger, who could have done a better job of blocking a ball in the dirt that skipped past his mitt and allowed a run to score.
Smyly is 0-5 in his last eight starts and 2-9 on the season.
Meanwhile, Fulmer allowed two hits and a walk to improve to 8-2. It was his eighth straight start where he allowed one of fewer runs. He's the first Tiger starter to do that since 1913. Five of those outings were scoreless.