Over the past two and a half months, Chris Archer has been one of the Rays best starters, right there with David Price as one of the more dependable arms in the rotation. Last night against the Los Angeles Angels, he only strengthened his case as a top starter.
The Rays got to Angels starter Garrett Richards early, putting runners on first and third with no outs. A sacrifice fly by Matt Joyce plated the first run of the game, and it seemed as though the Rays would finally get Archer some solid run support. Despite putting Richards in trouble in the second by loading the bases with two outs, that lone run held up until the fourth.
The dam finally broke in the bottom of the inning. Tampa put runners on second and third with one out, and the Rays went to work. David DeJesus reached on an infield hit to third, plating a run and putting runners at the corners. Ben Zobrist flared a single to center as another run scored and the Rays kept runners at first and third. An error allowing Evan Longoria to reach scored yet another run, and that would prove to be all for Richards.
Even though the Angels bullpen shut down the Rays offense for the rest of the game, Archer was dominant. He had all his pitches working, seemingly placing the ball where he wanted at will. That domanence slipped in the seventh, as Archer allowed the first two batters to reach, and Los Angeles had runners on second and third with one out. A sacrifice fly plated a run, and Archer managed to get the last out when Chris Nelson grounded out to short to end the threat.
Archer turned in another excellent start, giving up a run on five hits, striking out five while making the Angels look helpless at the plate for most of the game. With his performance of late, Archer may be positioning himself as the possible second starter in a playoff series, depending on the health of Alex Cobb and Matt Moore.
Joel Peralta and Fernando Rodney nailed down the eighth and ninth innings, as the Rays earned a relatively easy 4-1 victory. DeJesus had a solid performance out of the leadoff spot, going 2-3 with a double, two runs scored, an RBI and a walk.
Zobrist was 2-4 with an RBI in the win.