Smyly unfazed by small margin for error vs. Tribe

Smyly unfazed by small margin for error vs. Tribe

ST. PETERSBURG -- Hard luck is the only way to describe Drew Smyly's second start of the season.

The Rays' left-hander pitched well enough to win Wednesday night, allowing just three runs (two earned) on three hits with a walk in seven innings. He also tied a career high with 11 strikeouts. Still, he came away with his second loss of the season in the Rays' 4-1 loss to the Indians Wednesday night at Tropicana Field.

"Just about everything was working [for Smyly]," manager Kevin Cash said. "He had a lot of swing and misses on the fastballs at the letters, the high fastball. And he was commanding it, the cutter-slider underneath the zone along with a couple of changeup-curveballs. He looked really sharp. It was a really, really good outing for him."

The fourth proved to be his undoing.

Rajai Davis doubled to lead off the inning on a hard-hit ball that just eluded shortstop Brad Miller's reach. He moved to third when Jason Kipnis singled, then scored on a groundout.

Lindor's RBI groundout

Later in the frame, Carlos Santana sent a shallow fly to right field with a pair of runners in scoring position with one out. It was perfect placement for the Indians as three Rays fielders converged on the ball. Second baseman Logan Forsythe ended up making the catch, but while attempting to make a play at home, he overthrew catcher Curt Casali. Smyly backed up the play, but he could not handle the overthrow. Francisco Lindor scored from third on the sacrifice fly, while Mike Napoli came across as the third run thanks to Forsythe's error.

Santana's sac fly

Heading into Wednesday night's game, Smyly had a good idea that the Rays' offense would have a tough go against Indians starter Carlos Carrasco.

"I knew going into it I had to show up," Smyly said. "I knew it was probably going to be a pitching duel. [Carrasco] has amazing stuff on the other side. He just beat us today. Showed it."

Smyly maintained that knowing Carrasco would be tough did nothing to affect his performance.

"It's not in my head," Smyly said. "It's out of my control. I have to focus on their hitters, not him. Just do my best job, keep it close, give our team a chance to win. I thought I did a good job of that. Just one of those nights where we came up a little short."

Smyly felt as though he pitched well even though the result didn't go in his favor.

"I thought I had pretty good command of my fastball," Smyly said. "It had some pretty good life today. I was able to locate it well and strike some guys out with it and competing. There's some pretty good veteran hitters over there, and I was doing my best to mix it up and keep them off balance."

For the second time in as many nights, the Rays' starter pitched seven innings. Smyly's performance combined with Matt Moore's from Tuesday night saw the Indians score just three combined earned runs, yet neither picked up a win, nor have any of the other pitchers in the Rays' highly touted rotation through eight games.

"They've thrown the ball well the last two nights, and they're going to pitch well for us," Cash said. "We're very confident about that. We just need to get some runs early on the board, but it's pretty understandable not doing that against the guys we've been facing the past couple of nights."

Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.