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Wednesday, Mar 21, 2018
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Smyly dazzles as Rays blank Rangers

— It was the eighth inning Monday and Drew Smyly was still pitching, something he had never done in his career. That fact should provide a glimpse into what the Tampa Bay Rays saw in Smyly when they accepted the left-hander in the trade for David Price.

Smyly dominated the Rangers in the Texas heat, reaching career-highs in innings pitched and pitches thrown and led the Rays to a 7-0 victory at Globe Life Park.

“We know why we did it,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said of the trade. “There are certain things we'd like to see him do, and I don't want to get into that, and he did it. It was wonderful advance scouting on our part, but the player has to cooperate and perform, so all the credit goes to him.”

Smyly held the Rangers to three hits in 72⁄3 innings. He threw 116 pitches to earn his first win with the Rays.

He had a one-hitter through six innings, and that was a bunt single by Daniel Robertson with two outs in the third inning.

Smyly and the bullpen combined to pitch the Rays' 14th shutout of the season. They also combined to extend the Rays' streak of allowing three or fewer runs to seven games. That ties the franchise record achieved three previous times, including earlier this season.

“He just had everything going on,” Maddon said. “He had the fastball down, the fastball up. Breaking ball when he was behind in the count. I knew what his game plan was and he just did it. He pitched to all quadrants well, and he and (catcher Curt Casali) were on the same page.”

Casali has caught both of Smyly's starts with the Rays, and Smyly said they worked together well to keep the Rangers off balance.

When asked if it was the best game of his career, Smyly said, “It was the longest game of my career so I guess you can say that. Some days you're really feeling it and other days when you're in a really good groove. (This) was one of those days and it was really good to take advantage of it.”

About the only thing that went wrong for the Rays during the first game of this four-game series occurred in the seventh inning when right fielder Kevin Kiermaier left the game with lower-back tightness. He was removed as a precaution. Maddon said the injury doesn't appear serious and that Kiermaier could play tonight.

Kiermaier hurt his back sliding when he stole second base in the fourth inning. During his next at-bat, Kiermaier grabbed his lower back and bent over after he swung and missed. He tripled to right field with his next swing.

Maddon said Kiermaier wanted to remain in the game, but Maddon didn't like how Kiermaier seemed uncomfortable standing in the outfield once he returned to his position.

The Rays gave Smyly all the runs he would need in the second inning when they scored three times.

Cole Figueroa scored the first run when he walked, advanced to second base on a single by Yunel Escobar and scored on a throwing error by Rangers pitcher Colby Lewis.

Lewis fielded a bunt by Casali and tried to get the force at third base, but his throw got past Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre.

Matt Joyce drove home two runs with a two-out single.

The Rays scored two more runs in the fourth inning on an RBI double by Ben Zobrist and a single by Evan Longoria.

The Rays made it 6-0 in the eighth inning when Figueroa led off with a double and scored on a two-out single by Desmond Jennings.

A two-out single in the ninth inning by James Loney was followed by a triple to right field by Figueroa for the Rays' final run of the night. Figueroa had his third two-hit game of the month. His triple was the first of his career.

Six of the Rays' seven runs came on two-out hits.

“We had good at-bats,” Maddon said. “We hit the ball well. I'll take 7-0.”

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Smyly dazzles as Rays blank Rangers