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Tampa Bay Rays Game 29: Comeback Falls Short After Archer Struggles

By Robbie Knopf

The Tampa Bay Rays turned what could have been a frustrating game against the Texas Rangers into one that went right down to the wire. Unfortunately, the only result of their efforts was their 14th loss of the season. The Rays’ valiant attempt to overcome a 5-0 deficit was not quite enough after Chris Archer struggled mightily for the second straight start.

Archer wound up going 3.1 innings allowing 5 runs on 4 hits, striking out 8 while walking 4. Rays broadcaster Brian Anderson noted a flaw in his mechanics where he was leaning towards the hitter as he delivered, preventing him from getting the downward angle he needs on his fastball and causing him to miss up in the zone. Anderson also wondered aloud whether he was tipping his slider. Archer did everything he could with the breaking ball and forced some whiffs with the fastball when he got ahead in the count, but he simply had too much to contend with.

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Archer labored to a crazy extent, needing 92 pitches for those 3.1 innings. With his fastball command off, the rest of his game simply fell apart. That much is clear, but there is one other question to ask: where was his changeup? In a game where Archer needed to do everything possible to survive knowing that he couldn’t locate his fastball, he still threw his changeup just five times. The changeup may be best coming off the fastball, but what did Archer have to lose bringing it out more often, especially early in counts? He needs to have more confidence in the offering the next time this happens (which is hopefully not for a few months).

The positives in this game came after Archer departed. Erasmo Ramirez replaced him, and after allowing an inherited runner to score, he looked sharp. He went 3.2 innings allowing no runs of his own on 3 hits, striking out 4 while walking none. He tossed a third of an inning more than Archer on 39 less pitches. Ramirez’s fastball-changeup combination has some potential, and it is always great to have a pitcher who can save your bullpen in a game like this. There are certainly reasons why the Rays never designated Ramirez for assignment.

In the bottom of the fifth inning, the Tampa Bay Rays offense came up with three runs to give fans a ballgame once again. After a David DeJesus single and a Joey Butler double (both to the opposite field) began the frame, Tim Beckham delivered an RBI groundout and Jake Elmore an RBI single. After Bobby Wilson came up with another single, Kevin Kiermaier brought home another run on a groundout. The Rays rallied against Nick Martinez, who had entered the game with a 0.84 ERA and prevented him from finishing five innings.

Kiermaier wasn’t done, drilling a solo home run off Shawn Tolleson in the eighth inning to bring the Rays with 5-4. Ernesto Frieri and Brandon Gomes delivered shutout relief innings following Ramirez to give their team a chance to come back. However, the Rays drew no closer and will have to settle for a feel good loss. They will take on the Rangers once again tomorrow night, with Nate Karns opposing Yovani Gallardo at 7:10 PM EST.

Next: Tampa Bay Rays: A Better Slump for Evan Longoria