- Calvin Watkins, ESPN Staff Writer
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ARLINGTON, Texas -- Rangers leadoff hitter Shin-Soo Choo talked about the arm angles of Tampa Bay Rays starter Drew Smyly and how difficult it was to pick up his fastball and slider. The fastball came swooping down hard, which fooled the Rangers' hitters into thinking it was a slider.
Manager Ron Washington scoffed at the notion his club didn't play with much energy after the second inning Monday night, despite a crowd of 28,501 that seemed disinterested at times.
Maybe Rangers starter Colby Lewis described the evening best, an evening on which the Rangers lost 7-0 to maintain the worst record in baseball for another day.
"I beat myself walking guys, which I don’t do," he said. "Playing dumb baseball. From my standpoint, from my end of things, I played dumb baseball tonight."
While yes, you can blame Smyly for earning his first victory with the Rays while establishing career highs in innings (7⅔) and pitches (116), the Rangers didn’t do enough at the plate to make things better.
"You got to tip your cap," Daniel Robertson said of Smyly. "He pitched well tonight, and the numbers proved it."
As the hitters struggled, Lewis did too.
He didn't have command of his pitches like he normally does -- or at least how he's pitched in the second half of the season.
Lewis hurt himself throwing a ball way toward third base, which resulted in the first run in the second inning. He was also hurt by plate umpire Alan Porter, who called an 0-2 fastball to Matt Joyce a ball, though it appeared to cross the plate.
"I thought the umpire missed a pitch," Washington said. "I thought it was right down the middle of the plate. I don't know how he missed it, but he did, and it made Colby have to throw more pitches and Joyce got him."
Joyce hit a two-run single to push the Rays' lead to 3-0.
"You can go look at it," Lewis said of the ball the Rangers thought was a strike.
Smyly commanded the rest of the evening. The Rangers managed just four base runners before Rays manager Joe Maddon relieved Smyly for Kirby Yates with one out in the eighth.
The Rangers loaded the bases, and Washington elected to pinch hit J.P. Arencibia, his No. 3 hitter, who leads the majors in RBIs in the second half of the season, for Jim Adduci.
Now, you could say this is about matchups.
Yates, a righty, was to face another righty in Arencibia. Maddon took Yates out for Joel Peralta, another righty, after Adduci, a lefty, was announced as a pinch hitter.
I can understand the moves on both sides.
Arencibia had struck out twice previously, and he's hitting .162 against right-handed pitching this season.
Adduci grounded out to short to end the inning.
Washington really doesn’t have much to work with here. He hasn't for about the past three months, and it's very telling on the win-loss record. He needs veterans such as Lewis to be consistent, and when they're not, his team has trouble.
"After that second inning, I wasn't sure if he was going to be able to get through five," Washington said. "He got us through five; he just wasn’t commanding [his pitches]."
It seemed that's the story of the Rangers season: just not commanding something, whether it’s hitting or pitching.
Monday night it was both.
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