BALTIMORE — Through nothing but the circumstance of being traded for each other, Drew Smyly is going to be oft-compared to former Rays ace and Cy Young Award winner David Price.
And, if things keep going the way they are now, that's going to be tough — for Price.
Smyly on Wednesday turned in a second straight dazzling outing, leading the Rays to a 3-1 win by holding the Orioles to two hits over seven innings.
Price, meanwhile, was knocked out in Detroit after allowing nine consecutive hits to start the third inning against the Yankees, and for the night gave up 12 hits and eight runs in an 8-4 loss.
In his five starts with the Rays, Smyly is 3-1 with a 1.50 ERA. In his five starts for the Tigers, Price is 1-2, 4.41. Overall, Price is 12-10, 3.32; Smyly is 9-10, 3.31.
"It's been really impressive to watch," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "I'm not going to lie to you, we've had some really good pitching performances around here in the past, and what he's done more recently ranks right up there with the best of them."
Similar to his first pro complete game Friday in Toronto, Smyly was in command from the start, despite working for the first time with catcher Ryan Hanigan, and hardly challenged.
"You want to build off every start," Smyly said. "This is probably one of the better stretches I've had as a starter. You try to get on a good roll, a good rhythm and keep carrying it over."
He allowed a walk in the first, a two-out homer to Chris Davis in the second and a two-out single to Steve Pearce in the sixth, retiring 12 straight in between. Working quickly and efficiently, Smyly mixed speeds and location, getting full use of his repertoire that includes a fastball, changeup, curveball and what he calls a cutter but looks like a slider.
"He's been outstanding," Maddon said. "He's in that zone where I'm sure when he sees the catcher's mitt, he knows exactly where he wants to throw it and it's pretty much going there."
Only Maddon's plan to limit him to 90 pitches (he threw 87) kept him from at least a shot at another complete game.
The win improved the Rays to 65-68 and moved them 7½ games out in the chase for the second American League wild card and the playoff berth Maddon continues to insist they can secure.
After scoring five runs total in their past three games, the Rays came out and got two in the first inning, though in a familiar refrain they had a chance for more, derailed as much by an Evan Longoria baserunning blunder as the usual lack of clutch hits. They added one in the second, and from there it was up to Smyly and relievers Brad Boxberger and Jake McGee to finish it.
After coming to the Rays, along with shortstop prospect Willy Adames and Seattle infielder Nick Franklin in the three-way trade, Smyly downplayed any pressure of replacing Price.
But he acknowledged Wednesday it couldn't have gone much better.
"It's really encouraging to get off to a good start," Smyly said. "They knew what they were getting beforehand, but it's still nice to show them what you're capable right off the bat."
Contact Marc Topkin at [email protected]. Follow @TBTimes_Rays.