Archer keeps up masterful run vs. Jays
Rays ace sits first 13 batters, stifles potent lineup over 8 innings
ST. PETERSBURG -- Kevin Cash didn't see anything out of the ordinary from Chris Archer on Tuesday night, when the Rays ace flirted with perfection.
"I think -- not to add pressure to what he's doing -- that could happen any night with the kind of stuff he features and the groove he's in right now," the Rays manager said.
Archer retired the first 13 batters he faced en route to picking up the decision in a 4-3 win over the Blue Jays at Tropicana Field.
"He continues to go out and impress," Cash said. "Especially against that lineup, that's an extremely difficult lineup to have that many at-bats against. They just pick up on your mistakes. Doesn't matter how good your stuff is. They're going to get you eventually. Arch just kept pumping fastballs and sliders, and they just couldn't quite time him up."
Archer won his sixth straight decision, and the Rays have won eight of his last nine starts. He yielded one earned run or none for the 10th time in 16 starts this season.
"Archer's good," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "That's an ace, right there. He's tough to face when he's on. A great competitor. That's why he's having a great year."
Archer, who is 9-4 on the season with a 2.10 ERA, appeared to have everything working. The right-hander was overpowering and efficient, using just 45 pitches through four innings.
"I mean, all three of my ptiches were there," Archer said. "I could locate my fastball on both sides. I felt comfortable throwing anything at any time, first time through or fourth time through the order. Just kind of went with [catcher Rene Rivera], and obviously that comes from the scouting report that our coaches put together."
Alas, even on a pitcher's best night -- no matter how good the stuff -- he must have an element of luck to achieve perfection. In that respect, Archer came up short against the Blue Jays when former Ray Dioner Navarro broke the spell by hitting a solo home run with one out in the fifth.
"I didn't execute," Archer said. "I was trying to put a fastball in a good place and I put it right in his kill zone. He's a good hitter, man. Rays fans know that. They saw him play here for a few years."
Archer did not buckle, throwing 100 pitches in eight innings before giving way to Brad Boxberger to start the ninth. Cash said the decision to lift the staff ace wasn't a tough one.
"He had done his job," Cash said. "He could have gone more, but we've tried to stay fairly consistent. We're going to turn it over to the guys in the bullpen. Arch had done more than enough in that outing."
Archer allowed that he had a "taxing" seventh that took its toll, making the decision to lift him the right one.
"I wanted to [keep pitching]," Archer said. "I always want to. But our coaches know what they're doing, so they made the right choice."
Archer has made four consecutive starts against the Blue Jays of seven-plus innings in which he's allowed three hits or fewer and one earned run or none. No other pitcher has ever made more than two straight such starts against the Blue Jays.
Despite his success, Archer has a lot of respect for the Blue Jays' lineup.
"It's tricky because they're smart," Archer said. "They're veterans. They remember each time you face them, so you try to execute every pitch to your fullest capability.
"You know you can't slip because if you try to throw a slider, you hang it, it's going to get banged. I guarantee you they remember sequences from that first road trip when we played them."
No doubt the Blue Jays also remember some nasty stuff.