Major League Baseball

Rangers’ Smyly looks for encore vs. Mariners

RANGERS (26-26) AT MARINERS (24-33)

It’s said a pitcher never forgets his first major league victory.

There’s a good chance Drew Smyly won’t forget his most recent one, either.

The Texas Rangers left-hander, who is scheduled to face the host Seattle Mariners on Wednesday afternoon in the finale of the three-game series, pitched six strong innings in a 4-3 victory Friday against the Los Angeles Angels.

It was Smyly’s first win since Sept. 13, 2016, while with the Tampa Bay Rays.

He was traded to Seattle after that season but sustained an injury the next spring while playing for the United States in the World Baseball Classic and underwent Tommy John surgery.

Over the past two seasons, he made a lone appearance in the minors as he rehabilitated.

He was 0-3 over his first seven appearances for the Rangers before beating the Angels.

“I know it’s been a really long time since my last win with the surgeries and the two seasons off and the struggles so far this season,” said Smyly, 29.

Added Rangers manager Chris Woodward: “I don’t value the stat (pitching wins) as much as I once did, but I really wanted to get him a win. … He’s battled a lot of things.”

Smyly never pitched for the Mariners, who didn’t tender him a contract after the 2017 season. He signed a two-year deal with the Chicago Cubs last spring but had a setback and never appeared for them, either. He was dealt to the Rangers last November.

“I’ve put so much hard work in, and there has been some hardship along the way,” Smyly said. “It definitely feels like something off my back. I feel like I’m improving each start, but it’s good to get some results.”

Smyly (1-3, 6.15 ERA) is scheduled to face Mariners lefty Wade LeBlanc (2-2, 7.33). Smyly is 1-2 with a 4.74 ERA in seven career appearances against Seattle, including four starts. LeBlanc is 2-1 with a 4.13 ERA in five games, four starts, against Texas.

LeBlanc won his first two decisions this season before missing a month due to a strained right oblique. He is 0-2 with a 13.50 ERA in two starts since being activated from the injured list.

The Mariners lost 11-4 Tuesday night, and shortstop J.P. Crawford left in the eighth inning after rolling his left ankle while trying to scramble back to third base as teammate Mallex Smith was caught in a rundown.

Crawford was 2-for-3 with a double to raise his average to .279 since he was recalled from Triple-A Tacoma earlier this month.

“That was a gut punch to everybody,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said of Crawford’s injury. “J.P. is playing great. Not just (Tuesday), but this might have been one of his best games since he’s been up. So very disappointing.”

Crawford was sent for X-rays after the game, and Servais said he hopes it’s just a sprain.

“We’ll keep our fingers crossed,” Servais said. “You can’t say enough about the way he’s playing. You can just see the confidence starting to come out of him. He made a couple really nice plays at shortstop (Tuesday). Swung the bat great. It’s just unfortunate.”

–Field Level Media

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