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Tampa Bay Rays Game 73: Chris Archer Dominates Again

By Joe Saunders
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Chris Archer turned in another outstanding effort in the Tampa Bay Rays’ 4-3 win over the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday night. Archer held the dangerous Toronto lineup to just 3 hits and 2 runs, 1 earned, over 8 innings, striking out 7 and walking just 1. He retired the first 13 hitters of the game and kept the Jays’ bats off-balance throughout the game.

In the second inning, Brandon Guyer singled home Asdrubal Cabrera to push the first run across, but he was thrown out trying to advance to second on the throw. Dioner Navarro broke up Archer’s perfect game bid with a solo home run that just got over the right field fence in the top of the fifth. The Rays battled back in the bottom of the frame with a Joey Butler single to score Kevin Kiermaier. Logan Forsythe would later fly out to center, and Butler scored all the way from second after Kevin Pillar lost the ball as he tried to transfer it to his throwing hand.

The Jays got another run in the seventh on an error by Jake Elmore where he couldn’t handle a throw from Evan Longoria, but Archer limited the damage to just one run, stranding runners at second and third. A wall-scraper home run to right field off the bat of Asdrubal Cabrera put gave the Rays a much-needed insurance run in the bottom of the eighth, putting them up 4-2.  Edwin Encarnacion homered off Brad Boxberger to cut the lead to 4-3, but that would be all she wrote as the Rays came away with the victory.

Chris Archer was dealing as he kept the Jays at bay. His fastball mostly sat in the mid-90s and hit 98 MPH on his 99th pitch of the game. Very few well-struck balls were hit off of him and he was quite efficient as he needed only 100 pitches to toss 8 innings. Archer didn’t always have his fastball command in this game, but his slider was nasty while the fastball had enough life to force weak contact. He is making a very strong case to start the All-Star Game next month.

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The Rays offense hit R.A. Dickey pretty well over 7 innings, compiling 7 hits, 3 walks, and a couple of hitters who reached base via the HBP. Seven different Rays’ hitters recorded a hit on the game. Kevin Kiermaier went 2 for 4 with a run scored and a couple of well struck balls. Asdrubal Cabrera also went 2 for 4 with his big homer. Arguably the most impressive performance of all, though, came from Guyer, who hadn’t played since June 18th and hadn’t started since June 15th yet finished 1 for 2 with a pair of walks and an RBI. The only out came on an impressive catch by Pillar in center.

Defensively, the Rays made the plays they needed to make with the exception of the Elmore error. There appeared to be a tear in Elmore’s eye after the play, and he was visibly frustrated. Elmore is playing out of position at first base and he still hasn’t gotten comfortable there. Combine that with the fact that he is hitting just .160 since June 16th, and it has been a frustrating few days for him. Hopefully he can rebound to help the Rays survive until injured players like James Loney, John Jaso, and Tim Beckham get back.

The Tampa Bay Rays are currently a game and a half ahead of the New York Yankees in the AL East pending the results of tonight’s game in New York. The Rays will look to take their series with the Blue Jays tomorrow in the rubber game, with Nate Karns facing Marco Estrada beginning at 12:10 PM EST.

Next: Tampa Bay Rays: Should Kevin Kiermaier Stay at Leadoff?

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