On Tuesday night, Drew Smyly looked like he had before his DL stint for the first time in four outings since returning. There was only one problem–it didn’t matter at all because the Tampa Bay Rays offense was surging.
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Smyly was every bit as good as his final line–7 shutout innings allowing just 4 hits and a walk while striking out 10. He showed good command of his fastball in all parts of the zone, even forcing a bunch of swings-and-misses on pitches up, and that set up his curveball, cutter, and changeup perfectly. The breaking ball and cutter both showed dynamic movement for the first time since Smyly’s prolonged absence, and that was really the key. Even in his strong second outing off the DL, Smyly only struck out 2 in 5.2 innings as he threw strikes but wasn’t fooling anybody. In this game, on the other hand, the Baltimore Orioles hitters were overwhelmed on many an occasion as Smyly rolled. There wasn’t much they could do when his curveball looked like a strike out of his hand before disappearing down in the zone.
Smyly was also supported quite a bit by the Rays’ lineup, and leading the way was J.P. Arencibia, who went 3 for 4 with a pair of two-run singles and then a two-run home run. The first hit was the biggest as it gave the Rays a 3-0 lead, and he later helped turn this game into a real blowout. That is a really nice game, but the question is always going to be how many more games even remotely like this Arencibia can deliver. We can’t expect too many, but the advantage of a guy like Arencibia over most of these backup catchers that the Rays have had over the years is that he has some actual offensive potential.
Brandon Guyer also contributed 4 hits, adding a double, an RBI, and 3 runs scored, while Logan Forsythe went 3 for 3 but departed due to a minor ankle injury. For the sake of the Rays’ playoff hopes, it better truly be a one- or two-day thing and nothing more. Richie Shaffer also appeared late in the game and added his first big league double after a pair of home runs a few weeks ago. The Rays had more runs scored (11) than runners left on base (9), and it’s hard to argue with their 6-for-17 performance (.353 batting average) with runners in scoring position.
Kirby Yates did allow a Chris Davis home run to break the shutout in the ninth, pulling Baltimore within 11-2, but even he looked pretty decent, striking out 4 batters in his 2 innings. In any event, an 11-0 game is exactly when you want to use him, and the Rays will thank their lucky stars that they can keep him away from any game that’s close.