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Tuesday, Sep 30, 2014
Rays

Smyly goes distance for Rays to shut down Jays

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— It was all new for Drew Smyly, the entire night. The shutout innings, the one-two-three innings, the nine innings.

Then came the pitchers’ jump, the moment when the Rays starter who throws a complete game gets to jump and chest bump with the other members of the rotation.

“I think that was the worst part of the night,” Smyly said.

By far.

Otherwise, Smyly was … what?

“Awesome,” Ben Zobrist said.

“Artistic,” manager Joe Maddon said.

How about this? Nearly perfect.

Smyly, making his fourth start with the Rays since arriving from Detroit in the David Price trade, allowed only two hits and retired the last 19 batters he faced Friday night to lead the Rays to an 8-0 victory against the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.

Smyly pitched his first complete-game shutout since his junior year at Arkansas, and the Rays’ first complete-game shutout since Chris Archer blanked the Yankees on July 27, 2013.

It was also a team-record tying 17th shutout of the season and the ninth time in franchise history the Rays have tossed shutouts in consecutive games.

“That was, for my money, the best pitching performance I’ve seen from a Ray in this ballpark,” Maddon said.

Smyly allowed a single to leadoff hitter Jose Reyes in the first inning and had him erased on a double-play grounder to Zobrist. Smyly allowed a two-out single to Steve Tolleson in the third and that was the end of the night for the Jays’ offense.

“It’s not something starters get that often,” Smyly said. “You got to be on point from inning one to inning nine. They’re tough. Not many starters get to do it. It’s a big accomplishment for me.”

Maddon said he could tell early in the game that Smyly was about to have a dominant night.

“He had everything going on,” Maddon said. “You could see it from the beginning he was going to pitch well all night. It was just obvious.”

Smyly said he had the same feeling.

“I think after I got that double play and the ground ball to (Jose) Bautista (in the first inning), I thought I was going to have a pretty good day,” he said. “My change-up was the best it’s been since I started throwing it. I think that made a big difference, and then I was throwing the backdoor slider off that, and I think that’s what gave those right-handers trouble.”

Ah, the right-handers.

Smyly has had trouble with them throughout his career. Maddon said the team made some suggestions to Smyly once he joined the team — nothing major, just a few things to consider.

“We’ve given him some ideas,” Maddon said. “Listen, we the Rays take no credit. That is Smyly going out there and doing his thing. ... That was an entire right-handed lineup except for (Colby) Rasmus, and that’s the group that’s been giving him problems and he pitched pretty well.”

The Rays won the first game of a seven-game road trip that includes four games next week in Baltimore. The only team in the majors with a winning record on the road and a losing record overall continued to be road warriors.

Smyly’s performance extended the Rays’ streak of allowing three or fewer runs during a road game to 19, an American League record.

Evan Longoria sparked a big night by the offense with three hits and three RBIs. Longoria got things started when he drove the first pitch he saw in the second inning into the first deck in left field for his 16th home run of the season. His two-run double capped a four-run sixth and extended the Rays’ lead to 7-0.

Kevin Kiermaier hustled his way to a pair of doubles as part of a three-hit night. Curt Casali had a pair of hits. Wil Myers recorded his first hit since coming off the disabled list — a home run to left field in the eighth that concluded the scoring. Myers was 0-for-8 with two walks and six strikeouts — all looking — prior to that hit.

The rest of the evening belonged to Smyly, who threw 105 pitches, 75 for strikes. Yet, Smyly balked at calling it his best start since turning pro.

“If you’re talking (being steady), then maybe,” he said. “Usually I feel most pitchers have an inning or half an inning where they kind of lose it and get in trouble and have to work out of it. Tonight I felt in charge.”

rmooney@tampatrib.com

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Twitter: @RMooneyTBO

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