NEW YORK — LHP Drew Smyly could be forgiven if he wasn't quite sure how to act Sunday after his Rays mates scored five runs in the first inning.
In the first 22 innings Smyly had pitched this season, he had held a lead for only one. And here he was walking to the mound at Yankee Stadium up 5-0 after the Rays sent nine men to the plate and rapped six consecutive two-out hits, five for extra bases.
"That was huge," Smyly said. "It was fun to pitch with a lead. It makes my job a bit easier. Just throw strikes, attack these guys. It worked out for us."
Smyly still had to do his part, and he did well despite having issues gripping what he said were slippery baseballs in the 8-1 victory. He worked seven solid innings, scattering six hits in allowing one run, ending his 14-inning scoreless streak.
And he continued his unexpected, and he says unintended, strikeout pace, following back-to-back 11-K outings by fanning six more to lead the majors with 33.
"Drew Smyly just kind of picked up right where he left off against Boston his last start," manager Kevin Cash said. "Just commanded the strike zone, got a lot of chase, a lot of swing and miss. A really good performance."
BIRTHDAY BASH: Cash said he took enough abuse for giving CF Kevin Kiermaier Friday off on his birthday — despite pleading ignorance — that he was sure to have Steven Souza Jr. in the lineup as he turned 27 Sunday and will pay closer attention.
"From now on in the advance reports, I'll make sure I have the birth dates of all of our players," he said.
Souza said the plan had been to celebrate when he got home Sunday night with his wife, Mikaela, but he was glad to start the festivities with a pair of homers.
"It's great," he said. "As a kid (in Seattle) you grow up watching the Yankees and Mariners and the rivalries, so just being here and winning and the two home runs is obviously exciting."
ARCHED UP: Off to an 0-4, 7.32 start, RHP Chris Archer pitches tonight against the Orioles confident after some good between-starts work that he needs to make only a small adjustment to get back on track and eliminate the questions about what is wrong.
"It's such a simple thing that I need to do better — I need to be in the strike zone more from Pitch 1," he said. "So we didn't overanalyze."
Cash said that he expects better, that Archer looks fine on the mound and that it would be a boost if the hitters could get Archer a lead.
"Everything's good," Cash said. "It'll be a good start for him, a big start. … He has talked about lack of pitch execution; he's been focused these last four days on getting that better. The thought is it'll translate" tonight.
NEW GUY: New bullpen addition RH Jhan Marinez worked the ninth Sunday, showing the high velocity fastball and wipeout slider that made him worthy of promotion from Triple-A Durham. Marinez, 27, hadn't pitched in a big-league game since Sept. 29, 2012, with the White Sox, spending most of last season and starting this one at Durham. "I'd been waiting for this chance," he said.
STARRY-EYED: The All-Star ballot was released, with the Rays choosing Hank Conger as their candidate at catcher, Logan Morrison at first base and Corey Dickerson at DH. The others were obvious: 3B Evan Longoria, SS Brad Miller, 2B Logan Forsythe and OFs Desmond Jennings, Kevin Kiermaier and Souza.
MISCELLANY: Cash said it's a tough call, but he will continue to consider replacing Conger with Curt Casali for defensive purposes in close games. … Longoria, Miller and Pearce, at second base, all made nifty plays Sunday. … Cash said in retrospect the most impressive thing about debuting LHP Blake Snell on Saturday was his "zero fear" in not shying away from contact.