The big news from this game was that with Kirby Yates‘ second strikeout of the seventh inning, the 2014 Tampa Bay Rays became the fastest team in major league history to 1000th strikeouts. Other that that, this was a forgettable game for the Rays as they lost their fifth contest in their last six with a 3-0 defeat at the hands of the Oakland Athletics.
Drew Smyly had a mediocre Rays debut, going 5.1 innings allowing 3 runs on 7 hits, striking out 6 while walking 2. He looked good overall with his fastball-curveball-cutter combination, making only a handful of mistakes that turned into line drives. Four of his strikeouts came on his fastball while the other two came on his cutter, but Smyly evaded swings with all three pitches most of his outing. When Smyly did allow hard contact, though, the Rays could not make the plays he needed behind him.
In the bottom of the fifth, Coco Crisp delivered a single to right, but Kevin Kiermaier had a play on it and delivered a throw home that had a real chance to catch the runner Alberto Callaspo. Instead, Kiermaier threw the ball well over Curt Casali‘s head for an error, allowing Crisp to go all the way to third base when Smyly forgot to back up the play. Then, in the following frame, Yunel Escobar thought for certain that Derek Norris would be held up at third base on Nate Freiman‘s hard liner in front of Ben Zobrist in left. When Norris was waved around, however, Escobar quickly had to go from casually fielding the ball to quickly delivering a throw home, and the result was another bad throw for an error. That allowed Norris to score even though he could have been out by a solid margin, and Freiman eventually came around the bases as well. If either one of those plays had been converted, it would have been a huge lift for Drew Smyly and the entire team. When both failed spectacularly, it only broke their resolve even more.
The Rays had their chances against ex-teammate Jason Hammel, who allowed no runs despite giving up 7 hits and 4 walks in his 5.2 innings while striking out just 2. The Rays had multiple baserunners in every inning from the second to the fifth, but they never got the big hit they needed and were held off the board. Then the A’s bullpen did the rest, with Eric O’Flaherty, Ryan Cook, Luke Gregerson, and Sean Doolittle combining for 3.1 shutout innings. Cole Figueroa had two of the Rays’ seven hits as they missed their early opportunities and then got nothing to end the game.
The Rays will hope to salvage the final game of this three-game set tomorrow as they take on the A’s in a 3:35 PM EST matinee. Jeremy Hellickson will take on Sonny Gray as the Rays hope to finally break their recent slide.