The Tampa Bay Rays game was tough yesterday, but at least there were more highlights in the system. Let’s get right to it.
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Texas Rangers 12, Tampa Bay Rays 4
The Rays were down 3-0 in Chris Archer‘s start last Sunday against the New York Mets and managed to come back. They did pull within 3-1 in this game, but then things became exponentially worse from there. Archer finished with 5.1 innings allowing 8 runs, 7 earned, on 11 hits, striking out 4 while walking 3. The wheels came off when he hung a pair of sliders to the not-so-formidable duo of Chris Gimenez and Delino DeShields in the sixth inning for consecutive RBI singles. Honestly, though, his slider was effective most of the game and it was really his fastball that was the disaster. It was the fastball on which he allowed all 4 extra-base hits against him in the game, the most embarrassing of which was a 2-run homer by the ex-Ray Gimenez in the second inning.
Archer’s recent struggles deserve a piece (which you’ll obviously get) as he has just a 4.87 ERA in his last 7 starts. The funny thing, though, is just how arbitrary that endpoint is. Here’s a fun table.
[table id=17 /]
I put in the strikeout to walk ratio just to remind you that Archer will be fine–this was just his second game with a strikeout to walk ratio below 2-to-1 all season. And as for this recent slump, it is real because Archer was pitching to a whole lot better than a 3.52 ERA earlier this season, but it isn’t nearly as bad as it looks. Archer was terrible in this start and mediocre against the Mets…and horrific terrible against the Kansas City Royals on July 8th. Does that July 8th start have anything to do with these last 2 outings? No, it doesn’t. If someone quotes that “last 7 games” stat, tell them the “last 6 games” stat.
Elsewhere in this game, Kirby Yates was disastrous, allowing 2 inherited runners from Archer to score before letting up 4 runs of his own. No surprise, he has optioned after the game to make room for the return of Drew Smyly (although the Rays still need a 40-man move). To wrap up the negatives, Evan Longoria was picked off first base in the seventh (which is an interesting contrast with something below).
In better news, Asdrubal Cabrera drilled a solo home run, Longoria was picked off only after a 2-run single, and John Jaso went 2 for 4 with a walk and an RBI, with the RBI coming in crazy fashion. He hit a groundball that made it past second baseman Rougned Odor and just barely into the outfield, where it was fielded by shortstop Elvis Andrus. Even though Andrus had the ball, Kevin Kiermaier rounded third as he attempted to score from second base, and he got in safely when Gimenez couldn’t hold onto Andrus’ throw.
Brandon Gomes looked electric in finishing the game, utilizing the new approach we just talked about but actually mixing in 2 splitters, which was nice to see. If he can pitch off the slider and still use the splitter (something that other slider-heavy pitchers couldn’t do with their changeups), that makes this new version of Gomes look a little more promising. Finally, Richie Shaffer played the outfield, right field to be exact, for the first time in his (non-Arizona Fall League) professional career and successfully caught a line drive. He also came away with a hit in the ninth.
Triple-A International League: Indianapolis Indians (PIT) 3, Durham Bulls 2
I know what you’re all thinking: if only the Rays had Nick Franklin. Since enduring a 1-for-20 slide, Franklin has been awesome in his last 41 plate appearances, hitting to a .324/.390/.676 line with 4 doubles, 3 homers, and 8 RBI. In this game, he went 2 for 3 with a solo homer and a walk. And on the year at Triple-A, Franklin now has a .268/.344/.493 line in 160 PA’s. Don’t say that his case is hopeless quite yet. Ryan Brett had the other RBI while Luke Maile went 1 for 3 with a double.
On the mound, Bradin Hagens had a questionable outing, giving up 3 runs on 4 hits in 5 innings, striking out 5 while walking 4. The bullpen was much better behind him as C.J. Riefenhauser allowed just 1 hit in 1.1 shutout innings, Jose Dominguez gave up a hit in 0.2 scoreless frames, and a lone hit was all Jhan Marinez gave up in tossing the eighth inning to finish the game for the Bulls’ pitching staff.
Double-A Southern League: Montgomery Biscuits 7, Birmingham Barons (CHW) 6 (12 innings)
This game began with a strong outing from Taylor Guerrieri, who tossed 5 innings allowing 1 run on 4 hits, striking out 4 while walking 1. He now has a 2.50 ERA in his 4 Double-A starts, letting up just 2 runs, 1 earned, combined in his last 3 starts after surrendering 4 in his Double-A debut. Guerrieri has a 2.25 ERA overall on the year as his prospect stock is starting to come all the way back as he puts Tommy John Surgery farther in the past.
Guerrieri departed trailing 1-0, but the Biscuits took the lead on a solo homer by Patrick Leonard in the sixth and another by Dayron Varona in the seventh. Unfortunately, Ryne Stanek then collapsed in his second inning of relief work to make it 5-2 Barons, but the Biscuits had a rally left in them. In the ninth, Jake Bauers laced a leadoff single, Johnny Field doubled, and with 2 outs, Leonardo Reginatto drove them both in on a single. Tyler Goeddel followed with an RBI double and it was a 5-5 ballgame.
The Biscuits then took the lead in the 12th as Cameron Seitzer singled, pinch-runner Thomas Coyle stole second, and Daniel Robertson delivered a go-ahead RBI single. Johnny Field followed with another RBI single for an insurance run, and that proved to be the difference in the game. Consecutive 2-out singles pulled the Barons within a run before Justin O’Conner picked Tony Thomas off first base to end the game.
Field finished the game at 3 for 6 with 2 doubles, an RBI, and a run scored while Robertson, Jake Bauers, and Seitzer all contributed multi-hit games as well. Robertson has consecutive multi-hit games and a 4-game hitting streak as he is starting to find himself again. O’Conner went 0 for 6 but still had a big impact between his game-calling, the pickoff, and a runner caught stealing. Jeff Ames also tossed 2 perfect innings with a strikeout in the victory.