Originally posted on Fox Sports Florida  |  Last updated 4/12/12
Tune into Sun Sports at 12:30 p.m. to watch the Tampa Bay Rays take on the Detroit Tigers. The Tampa Bay Rays are off to the best start in franchise history, thanks in part to a late rally that ended the Detroit Tigers' bid to remain the AL's last unbeaten team. The Rays will try to add another victory Thursday at Comerica Park while spoiling Tigers left-hander Drew Smyly's major league debut. Tampa Bay was stymied by Detroit ace Justin Verlander for much of Wednesday's game with one hit over eight innings. The Rays, though, scored four runs in the ninth - all charged to Verlander - to win 4-2 and hand the Tigers (4-1) their first loss. Ben Zobrist hit the go-ahead two-run single off closer Jose Valverde after Evan Longoria singled in the tying run, helping the Rays (4-1) post the best start in their 14 years of existence. "They are never going to give up," manager Joe Maddon said. "Say what you want about this team, but they play nine hard innings." Tampa Bay will try to keep rolling against the 22-year-old Smyly, a second-round pick in 2010 from the University of Arkansas. The left-hander went 11-6 with a 2.07 ERA during two stops in the minors last season, striking out 130 batters and walking 36. "I was definitely confident that I could show them that I was capable of being the guy and then it was up to them to pick who they wanted to be up there," Smyly told the Tigers' official website. "But from the first day of spring training, I was just excited to get to show everybody what I had." He earned a spot in the rotation with a solid spring but was roughed up in a tune-up start at Triple-A Toledo on Saturday. Smyly, who had never pitched above Double-A, allowed three runs, three hits and two walks while recording just five outs. Tampa Bay's Jeff Niemann, originally slated to pitch Wednesday, will make his season debut. The right-hander reached double-digit victories for a third consecutive season in 2011, going 11-7 with a 4.06 ERA despite missing six weeks with a strained lower back. After returning from that injury June 20, he won seven consecutive decisions and didn't suffer a loss until Aug. 22 to Detroit. He allowed four runs over 7 1-3 innings while being outdueled by Verlander in a 5-2 home loss. Niemann is 1-1 with a 3.54 ERA in four career starts against the Tigers and gave up two runs over seven innings during his only one at Comerica Park on Aug. 30, 2009. "I'm anxious to go out there and get the first (start) under my belt. Keep on rolling," Niemann told the Rays' website. "They've got some guys in the middle there that can obviously do some damage. And the rest of their hitters are pretty solid. I just have to go out there and make my pitches." Miguel Cabrera, batting .471 with three homers and nine RBIs, is 5 for 13 with two solo homers off Niemann. While Delmon Young is 6 for 14 against him and Jhonny Peralta has gone 5 for 10, Austin Jackson is 0 for 4 but enters this matchup batting .500. Prince Fielder is coming off his first hitless game in a Detroit uniform but is still batting .333 with four RBIs.
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

SEC commissioner shoots down Bielema's SEC/Big Ten idea

South Carolina LB Skai Moore will miss season with neck injury

Report: Nick Van Exel will join Grizzlies coaching staff

Denver Broncos WR and girlfriend end up arrested

Chris Berman may end up with emeritus-type role at ESPN


Not one, but two position players take the mound for the Padres

Report: Will Smith’s blood alcohol level three times over limit when he was fatally shot

Report: Kings’ Darren Collison arrested for domestic violence

Report: Blue Jays acquire reliever Jason Grilli from Braves

Troy Brouwer has thought about signing with the Canucks

Jose Bautista says Rougned Odor was looking for fight before May 16 brawl

Mookie Betts hits three home runs, Bogaerts extends streak

Darryl Strawberry says Mets need to 'get into fights'

Jose Reyes to begin minor league rehab assignment

Jim Harbaugh responds to Nick Saban via Twitter

Raiders had three scuffles during OTA session

John Scott wants to form a World Cup team with snubs, including Phil Kessel

A look at who’s hot and who’s not heading into the summer tournaments

Durant, Westbrook and the right, liberated role players

Netflix announces G.L.O.W. comedy series

San Francisco Giants ask for tax breaks on AT&T Park due to dropping stadium value

Is Anderson Varejao already guaranteed a championship ring?

Why this NBA Finals rematch is different than last year

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Why this NBA Finals rematch is different than last year

Defense could play a huge role in who wins the Stanley Cup

Speedy pace of the Penguins-Sharks Stanley Cup Final

How expanded instant replay has hurt the NBA

Best regular-season NBA teams not to win a championship

Every time an NBA team came back from a 3-1 deficit (and what it means for the Warriors)

How disallowed goals can change the course of NHL games

The five most disappointing MLB teams this season

QUIZ: Identify these NHL Hall of Famers by their nicknames

QUIZ: Name every winner of the Belmont Stakes since 1867

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker