Drew Smyly got that start for Tampa Bay and threw two excellent innings to start the game. Smyly spotted his fastball well, especially up in the zone, and paired it with his off-speed stuff at the bottom of the zone ― racking up a couple strikeouts, while giving up a pair of hits up the middle.
Yet in the third inning, Smyly surrendered a soft double near the left-field line to Anthony Gose, then left a letter high 1-2 slider to Rajai Davis, who deposited it over the wall in left-field.
Tampa Bay immediately answered in the to of the fourth inning. Mikie Mahtook hit a leadoff double to left-center, and Evan Longoria followed by belting a two-run homer to left off Randy Wolf on the next pitch. It was Longoria’s fifth homer of the road trip, and 19th of the season.
— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) September 7, 2015
However, as they say old habits die hard, and the Tigers put up two more in the bottom of the inning. Nick Castellanos led off Detroit’s half of the inning with a double on another hanging slider, and James McCann crushed an errant cutter to left, putting Le Tigre up by two. Smyly was able to limit the damage from there, stranding runners at the corners to end the frame. J.P. Arencibia got the Rays within a run in the fifth, collecting his third homer of the road trip — a 464 foot tape-measure blast to left-center.
Brandon Guyer followed with an RBI double to right, and Mahtook singled him home, tying the game at four. They threatened further in the fifth when Longoria singled Mahtook to second off reliever Drew Ver Hagen, followed by a Logan Forsythe groundout to short with both runners in motion. But Asdrubal Cabrera couldn’t drive in the go-ahead run, instead tapping softly back to the mound.
Drew threw a clean fifth inning, and then handed the ball to the bullpen with the game tied at four.
After Brandon Gomes put together a 1-2-3 sixth, he took the mound again in the seventh and put down the first batter, Anthony Gose, on a comebacker. Yet Gomes hung a slider to Davis, who made another Rays’ pitcher pay by hitting it out to left. Ian Kinsler doubled, and Miguel Cabrera was walked intentionally to set up a double play. As if on cue, J.D. Martinez grounded to Richie Sahffer who turned a nice inning ending double play.
Matt Andriese took over in the eighth. McCann bunted up the left side to reach with one out, but Shaffer’s throw went up the right field line — advancing McCann to second. Dixon Machado’s reached on a single to center, also moving McCann to third. However, Detroit unsuccessfully attempted a suicide squeeze, with McCann tagged out at the plate, and Romine advancing to second. Andrew Romine flew out to left to end the inning, keeping the Rays within a run.
Unfortunately Tampa Bay didn’t get a runner into scoring position until the ninth against the Tigers bullpen. Pinch-hitter John Jaso walked with one out, and after Daniel Nava flew out, Grady Sizemore blooped a single to center. Evan Longoria (3-4 with a homer) walked on a full-count, 100 mph fastball to load the bases for Logan Forsythe, who had a seven-game hit streak entering the day. Even so, Forsythe was also hitting .200 with the bases loaded entering the game, and the second baseman hit a grounder into the hole at short. Kinsler was barely able to stay on the bag on Machado’s throw, and though the play was reviewed, the game ending out call was confirmed.
The New What Next
Erasmo Ramirez will make his first career start against the Tigers on Tuesday, opposite of Matt Boyd. Ramirez hasn’t lasted five full innings in either of his last two starts, and home runs have become an issue — he has allowed 10 over his last 12 appearances after yielding just four over his first 17 starts. Boyd, who has surrendered 11 runs on 14 hits over seven innings in his last two, will look for better fortunes at home. Boyd has two quality starts in as many tries at Comerica Park. You can read about the pitching matchup in our series preview.
Rays 8/7/15 Starting Lineup
— The Rays are expected to call up RHP Andrew Bellatti and INF Nick Franklin on Tuesday. They, however, are not expected to make any further additions, meaning LHP Blake Snell and utility-man Taylor Motter most likely will not be called up.
Franklin was slated to be part of a second-base platoon until an oblique injury near the end of Spring Training sidelined him well into the season. He joined the Rays in mid-May but performed poorly, hitting just .139 in 28 games. After a demotion to Triple-A Durham, Franklin hit .266 with 11 homers, 30 RBI and an .853 OPS in 57 games.
Bellatti was impressive in several early-season stints with the Rays, collecting a 2-0 record, and a 1.50 ERA in five games. Yet the righty was sidelined with shoulder soreness in June and had issues after going back to Durham in July, positing an 8.10 ERA in 13 games.
Bellatti will provide depth in the bullpen, while Franklin will allow for some late-game flexibility, plus occasional starts in the moddle infield.
— Logan Forsythe has been named the AL player of the week. Forsythe hit .545 (12-22) with 5 runs scored, five doubles, one triple, and two walks in six games.
— Kevin Cash said Steven Souza Jr. will play at least two games for the Charlotte Stone Crabs.
— With his next home run this season, Evan Longoria will join only SIX other third basemen in AL history to hit 20+ HR in seven seasons.