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Archer labors through 'frustrating night'

Rays starter fans 8, but wildness leads to shortest outing of season
Special to MLB.com

ST. PETERSBURG -- After surrendering one earned run in 26 2/3 innings over four consecutive starts, Chris Archer has struggled in back-to-back outings, including Thursday's shaky performance in the Rays' 5-4 loss to the Rangers at Tropicana Field.

Despite boasting a 97-mph fastball that helped him strike out eight Ranger hitters, Archer lasted only 3 1/3 innings -- his lowest total since a three-inning start last June in Houston -- before receiving the hook from manager Kevin Cash after allowing five earned runs on four hits and four walks.

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ST. PETERSBURG -- After surrendering one earned run in 26 2/3 innings over four consecutive starts, Chris Archer has struggled in back-to-back outings, including Thursday's shaky performance in the Rays' 5-4 loss to the Rangers at Tropicana Field.

Despite boasting a 97-mph fastball that helped him strike out eight Ranger hitters, Archer lasted only 3 1/3 innings -- his lowest total since a three-inning start last June in Houston -- before receiving the hook from manager Kevin Cash after allowing five earned runs on four hits and four walks.

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"I couldn't make pitches when I needed to," Archer said. "I wasn't in the zone enough. If you're not in the zone, it doesn't matter how good your stuff is. They'll lay off, run your pitch count up and that's what happened.

"I felt like my stuff was tremendous -- swing and miss -- but I'd rather have a little bit less stuff and be in the zone more because at least that would give me a chance to go deep in the game."

In a particularly uncharacteristic display of wildness, Archer forced home the first two Rangers runs by issuing back-to-back, bases-loaded walks to Delino DeShields and Shin-Soo Choo in a pivotal second inning that saw the 26-year-old right-hander throw 44 pitches -- a career high for a single frame.

Video: TEX@TB: Choo follows DeShields with bases-loaded walk

"Obviously I don't want to walk people at all, let alone with the bases loaded, so just a frustrating night," he said.

Archer issued just six walks in 34 innings to start the season, but in his last 7 2/3 innings of work, he's handed out eight free passes.

"Arch just scuffled to find the zone, fell behind some guys, still had his punchouts but he couldn't command his fastball," observed Cash. "He's got to throw enough fastballs over the plate to get the guys to commit on the slider. He wasn't doing that tonight."

"Eighty percent of my games have been overly dominant. Prior to tonight, the ones that I wasn't overly dominant I still felt good because I was in the zone more and actually gave my team a chance," said Archer. "Tonight, I didn't do my job at all."

Archer is now 0-2 with an 8.68 ERA in two May starts after compiling a 3-2 record and a 0.84 ERA in five April outings.

Still, Cash sees no cause for concern.

"He'll bounce back and work on what he needs to work on with [pitching coach Jim Hickey] and be ready to go here in four, five days," said the Rays' skipper.

Added Archer: "It's just one of those situations where you have to move on and make better pitches next time out.

"Period."

Michael Kolligian is a contributor to MLB.com.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Tampa Bay Rays, Chris Archer