Game 91: Chris Archer Sharp and Clutch Hitting Keys To Victory

By Dereck Violante

The Rays strike it big in the fourth inning on their way to a 4-1 victory.

With just a week until the All Star break and Tampa Bay within striking distance of first place in the ultra tight AL East, Minnesota comes in for a four game series at the Trop.  Tampa Bay also looks to continue their hot streak, winners of their last five and nine of the last 10, sending young right-hander Chris Archer(2-3, 4.17 ERA) to the mound to take on rookie Kyle Gibson (1-1, 7.94 ERA).

Chris Archer was sharp as a tack in his start, managing six strong innings, allowing 1 run on 3 hits while fanning 2 and walking no one, throwing a mere 84 pitches. Archer’s stuff wasn’t untouchable tonight, as he managed only 2 strikeouts but his command was spot on, throwing 53 of his 84 pitches for strikes, but was effective in letting his defense do the work for him. The only run given up by Archer came in the 6th when he hit the lead-off batter, Brian Dozier, with a pitch, followed by an errant pick-off throw that allowed the base runner to advance all the way to 3rd.  Dozier later scored on a sac fly by Ryan Doumit.

Tampa Bay scored all four of their runs with a big 4th inning.  Desmond Jennings & Luke Scott led off the inning with back to back walks to get things started.  After a Ben Zobrist fly out, Twins pitcher threw a wild pitch allowing both runners to advance.  Evan Longoria then struck out bringing James Loney to the plate.  Loney battled at the plate to draw a big walk to load the bases with 2 outs.  Matt Joyce then laced a 2 RBI single to give Tampa Bay a 2 run lead.  With runners at first & third Kelly Johnson stepped in looking to break the game open and crushed a 2 RBI double to give the Rays a 4-0 lead at that point.  All four of the Rays runs came in the clutch with 2 outs.  This was not an offensive display by the Rays as they managed only 5 hits, but again came through and rallied when it mattered most.

Joe Maddon sent the bullpen do do their jobs at that point as Alex Torres, Jake McGee, and Fernando Rodney came in to pitch perfect 7th, 8th, & 9th innings.

Tampa Bay will look to make it 7 in a row tomorrow night at 7:10pm as the Twins send veteran Kevin Correia (6-6, 4.19 ERA) to the mound against Jeremy Hellickson (8-3, 4.67 ERA).