Chris Archer has pitched much better over his last four starts, doing a better job of limiting his walks and showing signs that he could end up being the next top notch pitcher to come through the Rays system. Today, he may have taken the next step towards that goal.
Desmond Jennings got things going for the Rays immediately, reaching on an infield single to lead off the game, and scoring on a double in the left center gap by Evan Longoria to give the Rays an early 1-0 lead. As it would trun out, that run would be all the support Archer would need.
Mixing his pitches well and displaying much better control, Archer mowed through the Astros lineup. After the leadoff man reached on an error in the second, he did not allow another baserunner until a double with one out in the fifth, and the Astros did not get a leadoff runner again until the ninth.
Tampa took command in the fourth. Kelly Johnson singled, and Jose Lobaton put down a bunt to attempt to move the runner over. Lobaton would end up safe on an infield single as Astros starter Erik Bedard threw the ball away, allowing Johnson to score from first. After Yunel Escobar singled, Jennings hit into a double play to score Lobaton, as the Rays extended the lead to 3-0.
Jennings continued his torrid play as of late in the bottom of the sixth. Johnson singled again to lead off the inning, and with two outs, Jennings homered to center, putting the Rays ahead 5-0. Archer made certain that margin would hold up, as he was still throwing in the upper 90′s in the ninth. After giving up a leadoff single to Ronny Cedeno in the ninth, Archer made quick work of the Astros as he cruised to his first complete game in the majors.
Overall, Archer gave up four hits in his shutout, striking out eight batters. He was in complete command throughout the course of the day, and this may end being a springboard for him going forward. Jennings, who made an excellent running catch for the final out, was 2-5 with a home run, two runs scored and two RBIs. Johnson was 3-4 with two runs scored in the victory.