DETROIT — When Drew Smyly imagined what his major league debut would be like, he never pictured anything as strange as the real thing.
Just a few days after struggling in his only Triple-A start, the 22-year-old looked far from ready for the big leagues when Tampa Bay immediately loaded the bases on two walks and a single.
“It’s been an exciting week, but I was struggling,” Smyly said after Detroit’s 7-2 win Thursday. “I couldn’t get into a groove, but once I got the bases loaded, I told myself that I had to settle down and get out of it.”
Smyly did just that, getting Jeff Keppinger to pop out, and then striking out Ben Zobrist and Sean Rodriguez to escape the inning.
“We had the game right there for the taking in the first inning, and we chose not to take it,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “The kid was obviously nervous, so I felt good with Kepp up there.
“But he gets the pop-up and then two punch-outs, and we get nothing, Maddon said. “It’s tough to not get anything out of the inning, because the kid looked comfortable after that.”
Smyly ended up allowing one run on four hits in four-plus innings. He walked three and struck out four.
“I had an awesome time out there,” he said. “Obviously, only going four innings isn’t good. You want to go deep into the game, but I threw too many pitches. With everything going on, though, I feel pretty good about it.”
Brennan Boesch provided more than enough offense for the Tigers, driving in four runs on his 27th birthday as the Tigers improved to 5-1.
“Today was a lot of fun,” Boesch said. “It’s my birthday, and we’re going to have a fun flight to Chicago.”
Collin Balester (1-0) allowed one run in two innings of relief. Despite having the American League’s best record, the Tigers do not have a win from their starting rotation. Against the Rays, five Tigers relievers combined to allow one run on three hits in five innings.
“They did an excellent job out there,” said Tigers manager Jim Leyland. “When you have a young starter out there, you know you are probably going to be into your bullpen. You might as well just accept that.”
The Tigers trailed 1-0 until scoring three runs off Jeff Niemann (0-1) in the fifth. Alex Avila walked and score on Andy Dirks’ one-out triple. Ryan Raburn struck out, but Austin Jackson walked and stole second before Boesch’s two-run single.
The Rays got a run back on Evan Longoria’s RBI single in the seventh, but Keppinger lined into a double play and Phil Coke retired Ben Zobrist to end the inning.
“That’s just one of those plays,” Maddon said. “We had plenty of chances to get runs today, but we didn’t take them. Detroit was relentless today, and we weren’t.”
Boesch hit another two-run single, this one off Jake McGee, in the bottom of the inning. Avila hit an RBI triple in the eighth, then scored Detroit’s seventh run on a wild pitch.
Carlos Pena opened the scoring with a homer in the third. Smyly hit Pena with a pitch to lead off the fifth and was taken out for Balester.
RANGERS 5, MARINERS 3: Derek Holland kept control.
Mad about walks that cost him a win last weekend, Holland struck out eight with no bases on ball Thursday in the Texas Rangers’ 5-3 win over the Seattle Mariners in Arlington, Texas.
“I’m not going to worry too much about a previous game,” Holland said. “My mentality is I want to be the starter and the closer. I always try to go out there and go as long as I can.”
Michael Young hit a two-run homer and had four RBIs for the Rangers.
Holland (1-0) allowed two runs and five hits in 7 1-3 innings. After two key walks that helped the Chicago White Sox rally for a 4-3 win in his first start, Holland (1-0) had a much sharper outing.
Following Ichiro Suzuki’s two-out single in the first, the only runner he allowed in a span of 14 batters was on a throwing error by second baseman Ian Kinsler the first error by the Texas infield this year after 108 clean chances.
Holland extended a scoreless streak by Texas starters to 22 2-3 innings before Alex Liddi’s RBI single in the sixth. Kyle Seager added a 438-foot homer into the right-field upper deck in the seventh, but Holland bounced back with a strikeout of Miguel Olivo and got a flyout from Casper Wells.
Already at 102 pitches after seven innings, Holland struck out Brendan Ryan starting the eighth, then allowed Chone Figgins’ double and was replaced after 115 pitches by Koji Uehara.
“When he got into the sixth inning, he started elevating his pitches,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “He fought through the seventh, and it looked like he might get us three outs in the eighth but it didn’t work out.”
Young put Texas ahead with an RBI single in the first. Then with the Rangers leading 1-0 in the fifth inning for the third straight game, Young hit an opposite-field homer into the first row in right for a 3-0 lead against Jason Vargas (1-1). Young added a run-scoring single in the eighth off Erasmo Ramirez.