Sometimes, it’s not the biggest names or the most talented players that end up making the greatest impact upon a season. It is easy to point to a player such as Evan Longoria or Wil Myers and expect that they will be the players that help to snap the Rays out of their rough stretch. A pitcher like David Price is usually who people would point to as the Rays stopper, someone that could get the Rays back to their winning ways.
Aug 18, 2013; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Chris Archer (22) reacts at the end of the seventh inning after giving up a home run against the Toronto Blue Jays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
While Myers provided the game winning hit Thursday night as the Rays salvaged the series finale against the Red Sox, the Rays may have finally turned the corner last night. Chris Archer put together his best game in the month of September, striking out seven over six shutout innings after giving up seven runs in his previous 7.2 innings, covering two starts. Yunel Escobar was 3-4 with two doubles, driving in a run and scoring another.
For the Rays to get back to their winning ways, it may be due to players such as Archer and Escobar. While Archer has the possible makings of a top of the rotation starter and Escobar has tantalized with his potential throughout his career, neither are exactly household names. For as good of a rookie season as Archer has put together, he is still a relatively unknown player outside of Rays fans. Escobar is more known for the controversies that have followed him before coming to Tampa than for anything that he has actually done on the field.
However, the Rays cast of unheralded players may be their biggest advantage. Whether it is someone like Jose Lobaton driving in the winning runs twice in a weekend series or Alex Torres putting together two months as a dominant reliever to Archer giving the Rays their best start since the end of August, Tampa has seemingly found ways to win. The past few weeks may have been difficult, but there may be light at the end of the tunnel.
It may only be a two game winning streak, but things feel different for the Rays now. They have the look and feel of a team that may have turned that corner, and know that they are ready to start winning again. Should that be the case, it may be due to players such as Chris Archer and Yunel Escobar.