Smyly ran into trouble in the fourth, however, surrendering a home run to Toronto rookie second baseman Devon Travis and a run-scoring single to third baseman Valencia. Despite needing to record one more out to be eligible for the win, he was lifted by manager Kevin Cash in favor of Jose Dominguez, with the Rays leading, 4-2.
"It felt great to be out there. Couldn't really ask for more," said Smyly, who threw 55 of his 79 pitches for strikes and allowed four hits. "My arm felt good, my pitches were pretty good. Good team win so it was a great first game, to have me and [James] Loney back."
Smyly's departure came as the result of an 80-pitch limit implemented by Cash and Rays pitching coach Jim Hickey prior to the game.
"I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little disappointed," said Smyly of his falling one out short of a victory. "That's baseball. I had a predetermined pitch count. I guess it was 80 but I didn't know that, going in. It stinks that it landed with one out to go in the fifth."
Cash conceded that the decision to pull his lefty was difficult but necessary, given the big-picture thinking the Rays employ when managing their pitching staff.
"Extremely unfortunate that Drew's pitch count got to that very difficult decision-making zone, and that's on me, but we've got to prioritize his health over his record at this point," said Cash after the game.
"I apologized to him, but that was the plan that we had in place and we wanted to stick to it."
Michael Kollligan is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.