Tampa Bay Rays Game 58: Chris Archer Makes History
By Robbie Knopf
No pitcher in the history of baseball had ever thrown three straight starts striking out at least 9 batters in each while walking none. By the time Chris Archer was finished on Sunday, he had struck out at least 11 without a walk in three straight starts, a mark that may not be matched for a long time. He led the Tampa Bay Rays to victory with 7 innings allowing an unearned run on 6 hits, striking out 11 while walking none.
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Archer won this time around with an absolutely unbelievable starter. He was leaving it up in the zone at the very beginning of the game, but after that, it was missing bats left and right. Archer threw more sliders than fastballs, 54 to 53, yet still generated a ludicrous 16 whiffs on the pitch. Archer’s only flaw was that he fell in love with the pitch a little bit too much, ending 10 different at-bats with at least two straight sliders and five with at least three sliders out of his four final pitches. One of those led to the lone run he allowed on a line drive single by Brad Miller. Archer’s fastball up can be effective too and he should use it more, but given his overall results, can we really complain?
The Tampa Bay Rays didn’t have Evan Longoria because of a sore wrist, Asdrubal Cabrera because of a hyperextended elbow, and Brad Boxberger because of triceps tightness. However, just having Archer and the backups proved to be enough, and all three players are expected to return for Tuesday’s game. Ex-Rays prospect Mike Montgomery was great in his seven innings for the Seattle Mariners (albeit with just 3 strikeouts), but the Rays received a Logan Forsythe RBI single in the first inning and a Mikie Mahtook solo homer in the seventh.
David DeJesus gave the Rays their third run in the eighth on a pinch-hit sacrifice fly, and the bullpen did the rest. Jake McGee struck out 1 in his perfect frame before Kevin Jepsen, filling in for Boxberger and pitching for the third time in four days, got past a Jake Elmore error on a bad hop and a Logan Morrison single to record the save in the ninth. Jepsen suddenly has three saves, and it will be interesting to see if Kevin Cash actually has him close more games based on matchups after claiming he would do so previously.
Other than the RBI men, other notable players in the game included Joey Butler, who went 2 for 4, and Elmore, who went 1 for 2 with a walk and a run scored in his first game at leadoff with the Rays. Also notable was that Evan Longoria pinch-ran for Bobby Wilson and scored a run before being replaced by Asdrubal Cabrera on defense. The Rays could only do those moves because they believe both players are healthy–by playing them, they lost the ability to backdate DL stints. Now we know basically for certain that they will be ready to play on Tuesday.
After an off-day on Monday as we all watch the MLB Draft, the Tampa Bay Rays will next play on Tuesday at Tropicana Field at 7:10 PM EST. Nate Karns will start for the Rays against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim’s Matt Shoemaker as the Rays hope to build on their 7-3 road trip and continue gaining ground in the AL East.