SEATTLE — Drew Smyly put up a fierce and spirited battle in objecting to home plate Jerry Layne initially calling him for a balk that would have scored another first inning run Tuesday and eventually getting it reversed.
Just not so much in losing the rest of the fight.
With Smyly rocked for six runs on 10 hits over five innings, the Rays couldn't quite overcome and lost again to the Mariners, this time 6-4.
"Just a bad night,'' Smyly said. "They hit every bad I pitch made, they hit what good pitches I made. I just wasn't very good. My stuff wasn't very sharp. And it seemed like every time they put it in play, it found a hole.''
Despite being down 3-0 in the first and 6-2 in the fourth, the Rays, back under .500 at 15-16, came back with two homers by Steve Pearce and a team-leading eighth by Seattle-area native Steven Souza Jr. to get the tying run to the plate, and one time on base, for seven batters over the final three innings — and couldn't once convert anything.
"Really impressive the way the offense continued to battle,'' manager Kevin Cash said. "We got the tying run to the plate quite a bit. Just not quite enough as it played out.''
The most interesting battle came in the eighth, between Evan Longoria and Mariners reliever Joel Peralta, who spent four years pitching for the Rays.
With Brad Miller on first and one out, Longoria was in position to help the Rays get even, even more so when Peralta threw three straight balls.
At that point, Peralta got wily. Figuring Longoria was looking for a fastball, he threw a breaking ball that looked off the plate. At least to Longoria, though not home plate umpire Jerry Layne.
"It's hard when a guy throws three straight balls and then the umpire rewards him,'' Longoria said. "It was a breaking ball, too. Not to say he was trying to walk me, but usually 3-0 if a guy wants to get back in the count he throws a fastball. It was a breaking ball, bottom of the zone. I don't know what it looked like on the pitch tracker, but ask Jerry Layne.''
Said Peralta: "It looked like a strike to me. It's always going to look like a strike to a pitcher. But I knew he was going to take if I threw a breaking pitch with that count especially. He's looking for a fastball to try and tie the game.''
Peralta out-foxed Longoria on the next pitch, too. Longoria was expecting something else away, and Peralta came over the plate with a fastball.
"The 3-1 was right down the middle,'' Longoria said. "I just thought after he threw a 3-0 breaking ball he wasn't going to try and throw anything close. But credit to him, he just threw it right down the middle.''
With the count full, Peralta elevated a fastball that Longoria realized was probably high but swung through and missed.
"He knows me pretty well,'' said Peralta, who was with Rays 2011-14. "He knows the way I pitch. So when I got a 3-0 count, I'm thinking he's swinging for sure so I went with a breaking pitch for a strike. After he took it, I knew he was hunting my split. I knew (catcher Chris) Iannetta was going to call fastball, and I just threw it where I wanted to throw it. I was a little more lucky than good. That was fastball at the catchers' mask at 89 miles per hour. And he handles those pitches really well. I don't even know how he missed it. Sometimes it's better lucky than good.''
Smyly had been the Rays most consistent pitcher, allowing two or fewer earned runs in his previous five starts. But Tuesday was the second straight start in which he lasted only five innings.
The AL West-leading Mariners jumped on Smyly to grab a 3-0 lead in the first, starting with four straight hits. Monday star Ketel Marte singled and Franklin Gutierrez homered to make it 2-0 nine pitches in. A Robinson Cano single, a Nelson Cruz double and a one-out sac fly by Kyle Seager extended the margin to 3-0.
"You don't see Drew get barreled up quite like that,'' Cash said.
For a brief moment, it was 4-0. In an odd sequence, Smyly was called for a balk that sent Cruz home with the fourth run. But the Rays objected, Smyly vehemently, that Layne had granted catcher Curt Casali's request for time out, which was why Smyly stopped his delivery and thus committed the balk. The umpires huddled then agreed and reversed the call, sending Cruz back to third.
Smyly said there was "just a little miscommunication" and that it was "pretty clear" time had been called.
Cash praised Layne for making the effort to get it right.
"Very impressive the way he handled the situation, that he admitted there was some confusion and corrected it,'' Cash said. "So obviously very appreciative of that.''
Fired up, Smyly got in a groove, retiring the next seven.
And the Rays – well, actually just Pearce – cut the lead to 3-2, with solo homers in the second and fourth innings. It was the fourth multi-homer game of Pearce's career, the last coming Sept. 18 at the Trop for the Orioles.
But then Smyly made another mess in the fourth. He allowed singles to Chris Iannetta and Seager, then a three-run homer to Dae-Ho Lee, the fifth for the Korean import, on a pitch that was considerably off the plate.
"I didn't think he would be able to hit that pitch out,'' Smyly said. "I was hoping to get a ground ball.''
Still, the Rays has chances.
They had an opportunity to get even in the eighth, when Brad Miller singled with one out to bring up Longoria, but he was done in by a familiar face, former Rays reliever Joel Peralta. Longoria was ahead 3-0 in the count, and Peralta came back to strike him out.
They had more chances in the eighth, as Pearce was walked by Steve Cishek and then Souza made a bid for drama with a drive to right, but it was caught for the third out.
And again in the ninth after Hank Conger led off with a single, but Logan Morrison, Kevin Kiermaier and Corey Dickerson all struck out.
Home runs have been the Rays primary source of runs, but they are not maximizing the production as 30 of their 44 blasts have been solo shots.
Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected] Follow @ TBTimes_Rays