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Archer tosses 1,000th career K, 200th of season

Cash impressed with righty's changeup during milestone outing
MLB.com

TORONTO -- Like he's done countless times in his six years with Tampa Bay, Chris Archer provided a bright spot in an otherwise frustrating night for the Rays.

Archer recorded his 1,000th career strikeout on Thursday in Toronto -- and his 200th of the season -- which puts him in rare company. The 28-year-old ace knew he'd reached the milestone when it happened, but given the 5-3 loss and the Rays' August struggles, Archer isn't in a celebratory mood just yet.

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TORONTO -- Like he's done countless times in his six years with Tampa Bay, Chris Archer provided a bright spot in an otherwise frustrating night for the Rays.

Archer recorded his 1,000th career strikeout on Thursday in Toronto -- and his 200th of the season -- which puts him in rare company. The 28-year-old ace knew he'd reached the milestone when it happened, but given the 5-3 loss and the Rays' August struggles, Archer isn't in a celebratory mood just yet.

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"Yeah, but right now in this moment, it's irrelevant," Archer said. "I might feel a little bit better about it when we get back to Tampa or tomorrow. But right now, it's irrelevant."

David Price (1,065) and James Shields (1,250) are the only other Rays to strike out more than 1,000 batters. Archer's done it quicker than either of them, though, and he is just the ninth pitcher in Major League history to strike out 1,000 in the first 154 games of his career.

Archer struck out 10 over seven innings against the Blue Jays, and Josh Donaldson -- who homered twice -- was the only hitter that really had him figured out. Now with 207 strikeouts in 2017, Archer has a shot to surpass his career high, the franchise-record 252 that he set in '15.

Video: TB@TOR: Watch Archer fan 10 Blue Jays in 10 seconds

"He gets his strikeouts, that's for sure," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "He gets a ton of innings for us. He can eat up innings, and he's had a handful of games where he's looked like he did tonight. He was dominant tonight. Take one batter out of the lineup, and he kind of had his way with some good hitters."

The swing-and-miss stuff is undeniable with Archer, but what really makes these season-long totals possible is his ability to work so deep into games. He's now thrown over 100 pitches in 25 of his 26 starts, and he should easily clear 200 innings for the third consecutive season as he continues to be one of baseball's most reliable top-level starters.

Archer's four-seam fastball and slider account for over 90 percent of his pitches, according to Statcast™, but Cash was particularly impressed with his changeup usage on Thursday -- especially when it came time for Archer to extend his outing through the middle innings.

"The changeup is a pitch that I think he went to in the fifth or the sixth, and really relied on the changeup," Cash said. "That was a big pitch for him tonight. It's a really nice weapon to have, to be able to get some of those guys, especially. Like today, they stacked their lefties. Every lineup does that to him and for good reason, but to be able to introduce the third pitch like that, it helped him get through that ballgame even deeper."

Keegan Matheson is a reporter for MLB.com based in Toronto.

Tampa Bay Rays, Chris Archer