The Tampa Bay Rays came a one-run loss away from winning their first three games of their series with the Texas Rangers. However, they are at least in position to win the four-game set after their dominant 10-1 win on Wednesday night.
Chris Archer continued the recent run of excellent starting pitching by the Rays, going 7 innings allowing just 1 run on 4 hits, striking out 12 while walking 2. Thanks to excellent fastball command, his usual great slider, and even a few good changeups, Archer generated an incredible 18 whiffs, the highest total of his career. It was no surprise then that the 12 strikeouts also marked a career-high, topping a pair of 11-strikeout performances. Chris Archer entered his start with 8.0 strikeouts per 9 innings on the season, but given how electric his stuff is, we know that he is capable of even more. In what has been a breakthrough season for Archer on the whole, he may be hitting even another gear.
Brandon Gomes was also effective in his first big league outing since May 17th, tossing 2 perfect innings with a strikeout. He had an interesting game because his cutter, which was all the rage in spring training, was absent entirely. After Gomes’ early-season success wore off, maybe a return to his previous arsenal was a necessary move. In any event, though, Gomes’ efforts were mostly irrelevant because the offense put this game entirely out of reach.
Matt Joyce homered to give the Rays a quick 1-0 lead in the first inning, just his second blast since the start of July. Evan Longoria is really the player the Rays need to get going at the plate (he went 1 for 4 in this game), but getting Joyce’s power stroke back would also provide a boost. Joyce’s home run had company before long as Sean Rodriguez and Brandon Guyer both drilled two-run homers in the second inning. It is pretty incredible that two players who began the year as platoon players against left-handed pitching both went deep in the same frame against a righty. Guyer actually led off this game despite the right-hander Miles Mikolas being on the hill for Texas, and that a testament to how far the Rays believe he has come. It would be nice if he showed more power, though, as the homer was just his second of the year.
Also impressing for the Rays before the night was through were James Loney, who went 3 for 5 with 2 RBI and a run scored, and Yunel Escobar, who went 2 for 4 with an RBI. It would be great for the Rays if they could distribute their offense a little better–they have scored at least seven runs in four of their last six wins while topping two runs just twice in their last eight losses. Nevertheless, their offense was as good as we have seen it in this game, and they have to hope that they can finally get something more consistent going.
The Rays caught a break as they hope to take three out of four from Texas as Yu Darvish was scratched and had been replaced by Robbie Ross. Jake Odorizzi will take the hill for the Rays in the 8:05 EST contest.