Thursday, June 21, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Drew Smyly excels as Rays beat Rangers

ARLINGTON, Texas — David who?

Nah, David Price did too many great things for the Rays for too long to go smart aleck and ask that question.

But after a dazzlingly impressive performance by his replacement in Monday's 7-0 win over Texas, there is a more relevant one:

Drew who?

It's Drew Smyly — Todd Andrew Smyly, actually — and he showed why the Rays wanted him in the deal that sent Price to Detroit, allowing only three hits while reaching career highs with 7⅔ innings and 116 pitches.

"He was so good," manager Joe Maddon said. "He was in command of everything. He threw it exactly where he wanted. He had himself a fabulous night."

The 25-year-old lefty was on the mark from the start, working well again with catcher Curt Casali, allowing one hit through the first six innings — and a kind of questionable one at that, a bunt in the third that Smyly fielded but tossed past first.

But before there could be much discussion over whether the official scorer would revisit the call, Adrian Beltre lined a ball by shortstop Yunel Escobar for a clean single. Rougned Odor later dropped a ball in front of diving centerfielder Desmond Jennings.

Still, Smyly sizzled, walking three, striking out nine.

"Today was just one of those days when I really felt good and had everything working,'' Smyly said.

It was a pretty good night overall for the Rays, who won for the fourth time in five games to improve to 58-60 and move within six games of the American League's second wild card. They also tied a franchise record by allowing three runs or fewer for the seventh straight game.

Six of their seven runs came with two outs. Eight starters (all but Casali) had hits, including a double and a triple by Cole Figueroa. Five different players drove in runs. The only negative was that outfielder Kevin Kiermaier left due to tightness in his back.

After leaving two men on in the first, the Rays converted for three runs in the second.

The rally started with a Figueroa walk and an Escobar single, then a break when Casali dropped a bunt and Rangers starter Colby Lewis threw wildly past third, allowing Figueroa to score and Escobar to reach third.

After Kiermaier struck out and Jennings' attempted safety squeeze failed when Escobar was thrown out at the plate (and the call withstood a crew chief review of catcher Robinson Chirinos, the ex-Ray, blocking the plate), the Rays added on. Ben Zobrist walked to load the bases, then Matt Joyce, after getting a break on an 0-and-2 pitch that looked like strike three, laced a single to right to make it 3-0, and built on from there.

"Two-out knocks are huge,'' Joyce said.

Maddon said what impressed him most about Smyly was his strike-throwing, 71 of the 116 pitches. Smyly said he was a little tired afterward but welcomed the chance to show what he could do.

"I was feeling great in the moment,'' he said. "I'm glad they let me keep going.''

Contact Marc Topkin at [email protected]. Follow @TBTimes_Rays.

 
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