Tampa Bay Rays Game 34: Archer Rebounds To Spark Comeback
By Robbie Knopf
Chris Archer was coming off of two disastrous starts against the Baltimore Orioles and the Texas Rangers respectively. In the latter, he threw 92 pitches yet failed to escape the fourth inning. Then, to begin this game, he looked just as bad. The New York Yankees started the contest with singles from Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner, a walk to Alex Rodriguez, and RBI singles from Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran, giving them a 2-0 lead with the bases loaded and nobody out in the first inning. Then Archer settled in and the rest was history.
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Archer got out of the first inning by striking out Chase Headley, forcing Stephen Drew to fly out to shallow center, and getting Garrett Jones to ground out. He then didn’t look particularly good in the second inning, allowing another single each to Ellsbury and Gardner, but he was bailed out by his catcher, Rene Rivera, who threw out each of them attempting to steal. He then retired New York in order in the third inning, and that proved to be a sign of things to come. Archer retired 15 of the last 16 hitters he saw to finish what turned out to be a great outing.
Archer finished with 7 innings allowing 2 runs on 7 hits, striking out 8 while walking 1. He had issues with his fastball command early in the game, but he was able to get past it. Once that happened, his fastball-slider combination was unhittable as it has been when he had posted a 0.84 ERA in his five April starts. It is annoying that Archer struggled for those last two starts and the first inning, but he is too good to be off his game for long. He found himself again in this start, and the hope is that plenty more dominance is on the way.
Despite Archer’s efforts, the Rays still found themselves down 2-0 after the top of the seventh as Nathan Eovaldi had pitched well without a major blip for the Yankees. In the bottom of the seventh, though, Evan Longoria got on base with a single and advanced to second on a groundout to start a rally. Logan Forsythe then drew a four-pitch walk, and both runners moved up on a wild pitch. David DeJesus followed with a hard single off the pitcher’s mound, and suddenly the game was tied at 2. Archer was not going to take the loss despite his resurgence.
Joe Girardi sent Eovaldi back out for the eighth inning, but he departed following a one-out walk to Kevin Kiermaier and a single by Steven Souza Jr. that moved Kiermaier to third. In came bullpen ace Dellin Betances to face Longoria, but by then, it was too late. Longoria saw a pitch up from Betances and hit a flyball to center for a sac fly to score Kiermaier. Longoria won’t always get hits, but when his task is as simple as hitting a flyball, you have to like his chances. He quickly received an opportunity to help his team and seized it.
The Rays added an insurance run after Betances threw a pair of wild pitches, but luckily Brad Boxberger didn’t need it as he recorded the save with a shutout ninth. His ninth save came right after Kevin Jepsen had followed Archer in the game and done his best to mirror Archer’s turnaround, tossing a scoreless frame after three tough appearances in his previous four. The Rays took the lead one inning too late for Archer to earn the win in the game, but Jepsen wasn’t a bad choice in his own right.
Great pitching is a common occurrence for the Tampa Bay Rays, and they need the opportunistic offense from this game to complement it a little bit more often. The win takes the Rays to 18-16, and they will take on the Yankees in the third game out of four between the two teams at 7:10 EST tomorrow with Nate Karns opposing Adam Warren.
Next: Tampa Bay Rays: A Flash of Who Logan Forsythe Could Have Been