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Tampa Bay Rays Game 10: Chris Archer, Rays Ace

By Robbie Knopf
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For right now, we can say for certain that Chris Archer is the Tampa Bay Rays’ ace. Alex Cobb is on the shelf, leaving Archer as the team’s best starter. However, will Cobb be able to surpass him when he returns? Even if Cobb is electric when he comes back, would he really be considered this franchise’s ace if Archer had logged two 190-inning seasons before Cobb had delivered one? That is a debate for another time, but at the very least, the Rays are perfectly fine with Archer at the top of their rotation.

Archer went 7 shutout innings on Thursday night against the Toronto Blue Jays, allowing just 2 hits and 2 walks while striking out 11. His slider was absurdly good, forcing a career-high 13 swings-and-misses. We saw on Opening Day what can happen when Archer’s slider isn’t sharp, but this was the polar opposite. Archer only threw 6 changeups among his 109 pitches, but that didn’t matter at all with his slider and fastball so clearly on point.

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Things got a little sketchy behind Archer as Steve Geltz failed to retire any of the three batters he faced and Brad Boxberger allowed a run in the ninth, but luckily the Rays offense came up with four runs and not any fewer. The Rays received an RBI fielder’s choice from Steven Souza and an RBI double by David DeJesus for their first two runs before Tim Beckham provided two key insurance runs with a pinch-hit homer. That blast proved to be the difference in the Rays’ 4-2 win.

The other storyline from this game was batters getting hit by pitches. After Archer hit Edwin Encarnacion to begin the bottom of the 7th inning, Marco Estrada hit Evan Longoria in the hip and Kevin Cash thought it was intentional. Longoria had to leave the game, although he is hoping to play on Friday night nonetheless. Given the Rays’ injuries, hitting a batter and incurring retribution is the last thing they can afford. Luckily this one is unlikely to hurt them too much.

Then, in the bottom of eighth inning, the last batter Geltz faced was Josh Donaldson, who was hit by a pitch according to Laz Diaz. Kevin Cash went out to challenge the play and wound up being ejected after the call went against him for the fifth time in his five MLB challenges. The 50th replay finally made clear that Donaldson was nicked on the finger, but that is more of a matter of Diaz getting lucky on a questionable call than him having spectacular vision. Hopefully Cash will win his next challenge.

This game did come with its negatives, but at the end of the day, the Tampa Bay Rays won and finished a three-out-of-four series win over the Blue Jays. Now they will head home hoping to win their third straight series as they take on the New York Yankees. Nate Karns will go against Adam Warren at 7:10 PM EST on Friday night in the series opener.

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