For the second game in a row, the Tampa Bay Rays gave fans a glimpse of how the 2014 season might have gone as they defeated the division leading Orioles 3-2 in a hard-fought game where one team’s mistakes made the difference.
In what will be one of his final outings for the Rays in 2014, Drew Smyly pitched another magnificent game, allowing one run in six innings. Jake McGee allowed the Orioles to tie the game 2-2 in the 8th inning when his pickoff attempt sailed over James Loney‘s head, allowing pinch runner Quintin Berry to sail to second base and score on Nelson Cruz‘ bouncing ball through the middle. The Orioles returned the favor in the ninth, however, when Yunel Escobar reached on a throwing error by shortstop Ryan Flaherty, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Keivin Kiermaier, and to third on a fly by Curt Casali to deep right center field before eventually scoring the winning run on a Nick Hundley passed ball.
The Orioles struck first in the top of the second when Chris Davis drove Smyly’s first pitch over the right field wall for a solo home run. Singles from Delmon Young and Nick Hundley put runners on first and second with no one out, and suddenly Smyly was in major trouble. The momentum of the inning turned, however, Evan Longoria made a great play. He fielded Flaherty’s bunt and forced Hundley at second to put runners at first and second with one out. Smyly then struck out Jonathan Schoop swinging and got Nick Markakis to hit a soft grounder to Loney at first to end the inning.
Davis’ homer remained the only scoring off Smyly as he mixed swooping curves and high fastballs to keep the Orioles off balance. The Rays removed him after six, not because he was fading, but to preserve his arm for more duty later this month. Joe Maddon has said that the team plans to limit Smyly to 150 to 160 innings this year. Smyly has been one of the team’s most effective hurlers since coming from the Detroit Tigers in the David Price trade, and if the Rays want to keep winning in September they would benefit from keeping him on the mound.
The Rays took the lead in the bottom of the third when Ben Zobrist walked with one out. David DeJesus followed with a single to right that allowed Zobrist to take third, and Evan Longoria drove Zobrist in with a sacrifice fly to deep center. Later in the inning, Wil Myers hit a sharp line drive to right center that Adam Jones got his glove on but couldn’t hold. That hit drove in DeJesus and the Rays took a 2-1 lead. The Rays managed just 5 hits in the game, 3 of which came in that inning, but they got just enough to come away with the victory. Brad Boxberger pitched a scoreless ninth to pick up his fifth win.
The Rays go for the sweep tomorrow at Tropicana Field at 1:40 PM. Return to Rays Colored Glasses for the recap and all other Rays news.