Despite having possibly their best lineup in history, we knew that the Tampa Bay Rays would still rely on their pitching and defense to get the job done. That was no more apparent than today, when the Rays took on the Kansas City Royals and won the game 1-0.
Chris Archer started the game for the Rays and was outstanding. Using his always nasty fastball-slider combination, Archer induced poor contact the entire game, giving up six hits, one a bunt and another an infield single. Archer also began to mix in his changeup today after not throwing it at all in his first start. The pitch looked solid, but with his fastball and slider at their best, Archer had no need to rely on the changeup. In the end, Archer went seven innings, giving up zero runs while striking out four and walking just two. Fellow young flamethrower Yordano Ventura was just as good for the Royals, but ultimately their bullpen gave up the sole run that the Rays needed. The offense needs to thank Archer, because he is the only reason that the Rays came out winners in this one.
Jake McGee relieved Archer in the 8th and allowed a pair of base runners before giving the ball to Joel Peralta with two outs. Peralta made things interesting by walking Alex Gordon to load the bases, but he managed to escape the jam. Grant Balfour came on in the 9th and struck out two hitters en route to his second save of the season. The bullpen was not asked to do much thanks to Archer’s great day, but they kept the Royals hitters at bay to ensure that the Rays came out with the win.
Offensively, the Rays struggled for the third straight game. They have now scored just three runs in their past three contests-certainly not what the club is looking for. The offense managed only four hits on the day, and walked just once while striking out eleven times. They got their sole run in the 9th inning off of Royals closer Greg Holland, when Wil Myers singled and subsequently moved up on a wild pitch. The Rays made Holland pay for the wild pitch, with James Loney singling to drive Myers in. The little things are often overlooked in baseball, but today’s game shows how one wild pitch can make all the difference in a game. Archer and the bullpen bailed the offense out of this one, but we cannot expect a shut-out every night, so the offense is going to have to do something different to get going from here on out.
With the win, the Rays move to 5-4 on the season. The two clubs are back at Kauffman stadium tomorrow at 2:10 ET for the rubber match. Former-Royal Jake Odorizzi is set to take the mound for the Rays against veteran Jeremy Guthrie.