BALTIMORE — It was Chris Archer, who after Drew Smyly’s last start, said it was finally time for everyone to stop talking about The David Price Trade.
The David Price Trade? If Smyly keeps this up folks around Tampa Bay will start calling it The Drew Smyly Trade.
Smyly, the young left-hander acquired for Price at the trade deadline, turned in another strong outing Wednesday against the Orioles at Camden Yards, pitching the Rays to a much-needed 3-1 victory that kept their faint postseason hopes alive.
Smyly went seven innings and allowed two hits, one a solo home run by Chris Davis in the second. Smyly then retired the next 12 batters he faced and 16 of the final 17. And he did that in a night when Price allowed nine straight hits and eight runs in the third inning against the Yankees.
Wednesday’s start came on the heels of the first complete-game shutout of Smyly’s career last Friday in Toronto.
“We’ve had some really good pitches performances in the past,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “What’s he’s done recently ranks right up there with the best of them.”
Smyly became the second pitcher in franchise history to pitch at least seven innings and allow two or fewer runs in consecutive starts. The first was Victor Zambrano in 2003.
“His last start was a complete game and for a while we thought he was going to do it again,” Jake McGee said.
Not quite. With Brad Boxberger and McGee rested after not pitching the first two games of the series and with Smyly well-above his career-high for innings pitched in a season, Maddon said he wanted to cap Smyly at 90 pitches. He needed only 87 to get through the seven innings.
Boxberger and McGee finished off the Orioles, each working an inning. For McGee, it was his 15th save.
In five starts with the Rays, Smyly is 3-1 with a 1.50 ERA. He has pitched at least seven innings in each of his last four starts, two of which have been scoreless.
Even Smyly said he is somewhat surprised of his body of work since joining the Rays.
“This is probably one of the better stretches I’ve had as a starter,” he said. “Really since the All-Star Break I felt I kind of turned the page and done pretty well from my previous starts. That’s what you look for. You try to get on a good roll, a good rhythm and try to carry it over.”
The Rays offense gave Smyly and company all the runs they would need in the first two innings. The Rays scored twice in first inning when Ben Zobrist, who had doubled and moved to third on a wild pitch, beat the tag at the plate when Matt Joyce grounded to second base. Wil Myers drove in the second run with a single.
The Rays should have had at least one more run that inning. James Loney lined a single to right field that would have loaded the bases, except Evan Longoria, on first base after a single, didn’t stop at second base and didn’t realize Joyce stopped at third until he reached third.
At that point, Longoria was the fourth Rays runner to be thrown out on the bases in the last 10 innings. Yunel Escobar became the fifth in two games when he was doubled off first base in the fourth inning after Ryan Hanigan lined out to shortstop.
The Rays made it 3-0 in the second inning when Hanigan reached on an error, crossed to third on a double by Desmond Jennings and scored on a sac fly to right field.
Smyly took it from there.
Whatever jitters he had when he arrived in the trade for Price, and took Price’s spot in the rotation, have vanished.
“It’s really encouraging to get off to a good start,” Smyly said. “They knew what they were getting before hand, but it’s really nice to show what you’re capable of right off the bat.”