Fighting to stay in the wild-card race, the Tampa Bay Rays are hoping Drew Smyly can help their cause while getting the better of his former team.
Smyly faces the Detroit Tigers for the first time Monday since he was dealt last year when the teams begin a three-game series.
The Rays (67-69) remained 4 1/2 games behind Texas for the second wild-card spot after losing 6-4 to the New York Yankees on Sunday. Chris Archer made two huge mistakes - giving up back-to-back homers to Brian McCann and Alex Rodriguez - that erased a 3-0 lead and sent Tampa to its third loss in four games.
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''I didn't execute in the biggest moment of the game,'' Archer said. ''Am I disappointed? Of course. We need to win every single game.''
Smyly (2-2, 3.11 ERA), who was drafted in the second round by the Tigers in 2010 and made his debut in 2012, gets a chance to right the Rays and also put together strong consecutive outings for the first time since missing more than three months due to a torn labrum. The left-hander had his best start among the four he's had since coming back, matching a season high with 10 strikeouts and limiting Baltimore to four hits in seven shutout innings of an 11-2 victory Tuesday.
"I'm looking forward to it for sure," Smyly told MLB's official website. "It's exciting. I played there for three years, loved every bit of it. They've got great fans. Hopefully they'll support me when I come back."
In his two victories since coming back, Smyly hasn't allowed a run in 12 2-3 innings. In his other two outings, he's yielded nine runs and 15 hits in 8 1-3 innings while going 0-1.
Tigers counterpart Randy Wolf (0-3, 6.11) is also hopeful for support - of the offensive kind. The Tigers have failed to score in each of his three starts since being called up last month, and the left-hander was drilled for eight runs in 3 2-3 innings of a 12-1 defeat at Kansas City on Wednesday.
Wolf has dropped five straight starts dating back to a 3-1 victory over Tampa Bay on June 2, 2014, when he limited the Rays to one run in six innings.
Detroit's late-season swoon continued with a 4-0 defeat to Cleveland on Sunday, its third shutout loss while dropping 13 of the last 16. The last-place Tigers, who have matched a season worst by falling 12 games under .500 at 62-74, are 10-19 versus the AL East, getting outscored 182-111 in those games.
"We hit some balls decent, barreled some balls," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "Ball didn't seem to be traveling for us."
Ian Kinsler, who made a pinch-hit appearance Sunday, is 3 for 7 with a homer versus Smyly. Miguel Cabrera has gone 10 games without a homer and is hitting .194 in that span.
Rays second baseman Logan Forsythe is hitting .538 with a 1.379 OPS during a seven-game hit streak.