Archer entered the sixth inning of Sunday's game having allowed just one hit and one walk, and he'd used just 55 pitches. Against the Astros, he threw a shutout that ranked as the most dominant start in franchise history, according to Game Score -- a metric devised by Bill James that evaluates the strength of a pitcher's outing.
"It was very similar to the Houston effort," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "There were a lot of similarities there."
Added Archer: "I mean it was obvious how I was feeling prior to [the sixth]."
Archer's past success suggested he might just notch another CG since he entered the game with a clear affinity for pitching against the Yankees, bringing in a 5-0 mark with a 1.78 ERA in eight career appearances.
When the Rays spotted their best pitcher a 3-0 lead against this team, the game looked to be well in hand, until Jacoby Ellsbury's one out single in the sixth began Archer's undoing. One out later, he walked Carlos Beltran before falling behind, 3-0, to Brian McCann.
Archer slipped a fastball past McCann for strike one before trying to get McCann to bite on a fastball up in the strike zone. McCann bit all right, but he bit hard, sending his 25th home run of the season deep into the right-field stands to tie the score at 3.
"I was trying to go with some elevation," Archer said. "I should have been a little smarter. He's been covering that pitch for the last three or four weeks. Especially in this yard.
"He's like an inch off the plate, he's crowding the plate and he turns that pitch into a pitch middle. I'm not saying it was perfectly on the corner, but it was outer third with elevation. I probably could have made a better pitch. Because we know he can turn the outside plate into the middle."
Making matters worse, Alex Rodriguez followed McCann's homer with a solo shot on the next pitch Archer threw.
"Just got out of whack and didn't quite throw the ball over the plate where he wanted," Cash said.
The result was Archer taking his first career loss against the Yankees, and his 11th of the season. He had been attempting to become the first starting pitcher to win his first six decisions against the Yankees since Greg Hibbard did it over 11 starts with the White Sox and Mariners from 1990-94.
"I didn't execute in the biggest moment of the game," Archer said. "That's the danger of them having power one through seven in their lineup. Am I disappointed? Of course. We need to win every single game.
"We played good enough baseball to win. That's kind of the threat of playing in this division. If there's guys on base, there's always a chance. I should have done a better job of executing."