Globe Life Park in Arlington had been a house of horrors for Tampa Bay over the past two games, particularly in last night's drubbing at the hands of the Texas Rangers. The Rays hoped to avoid the sweep on Sunday afternoon as lefty Drew Smyly made his long-awaited debut from the disabled list.
Unfortunately, the afternoon affair turned into a see-saw affair, and the Rays were the kid that who's friend jumped off and sent them slamming down.
The Rays jumped out to an early lead in the first, after Grady Sizemore doubled off of the recently-struggling Texas starter, Yovani Gallardo, and was driven in on a James Loney single.
The Rangers didn't wait long to blemish Smyly's return. Delino DeShields, who had been a thorn in the Rays' side all series, walked and stole second, and was driven in on a double by Shin-Soo Choo. Choo advanced to third on a Prince Fielder fly out and scored on Adrian Beltre's sacrifice fly.
The pendulum swung back Tampa Bay's way in the top of the second when Kevin Kiermaier doubled in Desmond Jennings and scored when John Jaso singled, giving the Rays a 3-2 lead.
The very next half-inning, Texas knotted the game up again, as DeShields singled, scoring the former Rays' catcher, Bobby Wilson.
From there, the Rangers did all of the scoring, as Adrian Beltre blasted a two-strike offering from Smyly into the stands in left in the bottom of the fourth and Ryan Strausborger took Drew deep in the bottom of the fifth for his first career MLB home run.
After five innings, the Rangers led 5-3 and that's where the score stayed, despite a few late chances by the Rays' offense that managed 11 hits off of Gallardo, but could only scratch across three runs.
The Rays had an injury scare in the sixth, as Kiermaier fouled a Gallardo cut fastball directly off of his kneecap. He collapsed instantly and was evaluated by the Rays' training staff for a few minutes before staying in the game. In true Outlaw fashion, he singled in the at bat and stole second for good measure.
Obviously, the main story of the day was Drew Smyly coming back to the Rays' rotation. In short, he definitely looked like a pitcher coming back from being on the DL for the better part of a year. He had some trouble hitting his spots and he certainly labored through his four innings of work, throwing 94 pitches and making a few mistakes to some dangerous hitters. In Smyly's defense, that was a tough way to make a return from a major shoulder injury. Arlington in the middle of August, in a day game, and facing a potent Rangers' offense that has been on a torrid pace of late is simply a perfect storm that culminated in the Rays taking the final loss of the sweep.
Looking at the big picture, the Rays just got swept by one of the teams with whom they are fighting for the last wild card spot at the onset of a 10-game road trip. This trip has been called the biggest stretch of the season, a true defining moment of this season and, to reference the Buccaneers' preseason getting underway, the Rays fumbled in true Bucs fashion.
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