Chris Archer has been the Tampa Bay Rays’ best pitcher, but it also often feels like he is their unluckiest pitcher as well. Wins and losses tell us nothing other the fact that Chris Archer has 6 more starts than Erasmo Ramirez with better results and longer starts yet has just one more win. This game, though, is up there with his matchup against Felix Hernandez earlier this season for his most frustrating start of the year. The Rays came away with 2 out of 3 against the Detroit Tigers–they can’t complain about that too much–but this game was tough.
Archer had a perfect game through 6.1 innings, the longest a perfect game bid had lasted in Rays history. His command of his fastball and slider was extremely sharp, and given the quality of his stuff, that made it as difficult as it gets to beat him. Justin Verlander had only allowed 1 hit on the other side, but that hit was an Asdrubal Cabrera solo home run. Archer had his run, and it looked like he could do the rest.
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Then the perfect game and no-hitter ended when Jose Iglesias hit a groundball that Cabrera fielded but could not throw to first base in time. He did everything he could, but that wasn’t enough to help Archer stay perfect. Cabrera admitted after the game that he had moved a few steps to his left after Iglesias had gotten ahead in the count 2-1, and that may have been the difference between a hit and an out. However, Iglesias’ rough inning with just getting started. Yoenis Cespedes followed with a groundball to short, but Cabrera muffed the ball for an error. It was an inexplicable mistake on a ball he absolutely should have fielded, as he confessed after the game, but unfortunately such things happen sometimes. J.D. Martinez followed with a groundball single to make it a 1-1 game before Nick Castellanos‘ line drive just barely got by Cabrera’s glove to make it 2-1 Detroit.
The Rays had a chance to tie it in the bottom of the seventh, but Steven Souza Jr. was caught stealing and Cabrera struck out following two-out singles from James Loney and Logan Forsythe. Then Tim Beckham struck out after Evan Longoria reached on a two-out hit-by-pitch in the ninth as the Tigers won 2-1. Archer was spectacular, striking out 11 while walking none as he allowed just 2 unearned runs on 3 hits in 7 innings, but as it turned out, that wasn’t enough.
Verlander was spectacular too–this wasn’t a game where the Rays were missing many mistake pitches–but it is frustrating for this offense to go silent again as Archer pitched so well. At the end of the day, though, what the Rays need to do is take a step back and remember how good they looked the last two days. They averaged 5.33 runs per game against the Tigers even with this one-run game in there, and would be totally fine for them to have more games like this if they could balance it out with by scoring five or six runs more than once in a blue moon.
The Tampa Bay Rays will be off tomorrow before heading to Boston to take on the Red Sox beginning at 7:10 PM on Friday. This was the last Rays game before the trade deadline, and we will have to see what other moves the team will have made by the time that game rolls around.