Plugging Drew Smyly back into the starting rotation was not expected to be seamless, but the Tampa Bay Rays sure hope to get more out of him than what they got Sunday.
Smyly, who missed three months with a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder, was roughed up in his first start back and will try to return to form Friday night against an Oakland Athletics team that has hit him hard.
The Rays (60-61) would like to see their left-hander rebound as they try to close the gap on the four teams they trail in the wild-card race. Chris Archer threw a one-hitter at Houston in Thursday's 1-0 win to pull Tampa Bay within three games of the wild card-holding Los Angeles Angels.
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Taking the mound for the first time since May 5, Smyly was pounded by Texas for five runs and seven hits in four innings of a 5-3 loss in Arlington.
"I mean, I'm looking forward to Oakland," Smyly told MLB's official website. "I'm not thinking about the injury. I'm not thinking about Texas. It's one game. People have bad games. Hopefully I can pitch better."
Smyly (0-2, 4.35 ERA) has had little luck against the A's in his career. In five appearances in this matchup, Smyly is 0-2 with a 9.95 ERA. That includes a .364 opponent batting average, a blown save, and a start last season in which he gave up a career-high four home runs.
In two career road starts versus the A's, Smyly is 0-2 with a 7.84 ERA.
Oakland's Billy Butler is 7 for 14 against him with a home run and a double.
The A's (53-69) followed a seven-game losing streak with back-to-back wins over the Los Angeles Dodgers, including Wednesday's 5-2 victory.
They'll try to make it three straight behind Chris Bassitt (1-4, 2.60), who has pitched very well since being recalled from Triple-A Nashville on July 25.
In five starts since returning to the majors, the right-hander is 1-2 with a 2.34 ERA and a .200 opponent batting average. He logged a career-high eight innings at Baltimore on Saturday, allowing three runs and five hits with six strikeouts before leaving without a decision in a 4-3 loss.
Bassitt has lasted at least six innings and held opponents to less than six hits and three runs in each of his last five starts.
The Rays announced Thursday that reliever Jake McGee will miss 6-8 weeks with a torn meniscus in his left knee and is questionable to return this season.
McGee had six saves in 10 chances this year to go with a 1-2 record and 2.57 ERA while largely working as the setup man for Brad Boxberger. McGee registered 19 saves in 23 opportunities as Tampa Bay's closer last year.
"It's frustrating," manager Kevin Cash said. "Jake is such a big part of our bullpen, part of our team."
The A's and Rays split a four-game series at Tropicana Field in May. Oakland has won five of six at home against Tampa Bay.