Friday, November 24, 2017
Tampa Bay Rays

Archer avoids tying loss mark, Rays rout Astros (w/video)

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HOUSTON — RHP Chris Archer had a pretty good Sunday.

Not only did he escape, or at least delay, the ignominy of tying Tanyon Sturtze's team record of 18 losses with a sharp seven-inning outing in a 10-4 win over the Astros and push his league-leading strikeout total past 200, he settled an apparent beef with Houston OF George Springer before it festered.

The two had words after Springer objected to Archer's somewhat standard emotional reaction to a strikeout ending the seventh inning and his 114-pitch day, pumping his fist and bouncing off the mound.

Springer appeared to suggest Archer should act like he had struck people out before, and Archer — admittedly surprised at the reaction — replied that he was just having fun playing the game.

By the time Archer did his postgame interview in the clubhouse, he said Springer had already reached out and they had resolved it.

"I think we both got caught up in the heat of the moment," Archer said. "No hard feelings, no love lost. I respect that guy as a player. Part of the reason I got so excited is because he is a really good hitter. I knew I was down to my last couple pitches, that was my last hitter. … He had a great at-bat, and I was fortunate enough to win that battle. I think he got caught up in the heat of the moment, as did I. But we've squashed it. We've already communicated. And it's over with."

(Springer, on the other hand, told a Houston reporter, "I just asked him what his favorite animal was.")

Archer had just one rough stretch, allowing a two-run homer to Jose Altuve and a third run on a walk and two singles in the fourth to trim the Rays' lead to 4-3. But he retired nine of the first 10 batters before that, and nine of his final 10 afterward, logging 10 strikeouts in improving to 8-17 with a 4.10 ERA.

"I definitely pitched much, much closer to my potential (Sunday)," he said, "and that's what it's all about."

Archer, who posted a team-record 252 Ks last season, joined David Price and James Shields as the only Rays to reach 200 twice.

"He was outstanding," manager Kevin Cash said. "He really got in a groove and stayed within himself. That was good to see."

POWER BALL: After taking a 4-0 lead that got cut to 4-3, the Rays (55-74) broke the game open with a five-run eighth. SS Matt Duffy hit a two-run homer, his first since joining the Rays after the Aug. 1 trade from San Francisco, and LF Corey Dickerson hit a three-run shot, his 18th of the season but first off a lefty (Tony Sipp) since August 2014. INF/OF Nick Franklin, in his first start off the concussion disabled list, added a solo shot in the ninth.

Dickerson, filling in at leadoff, finished the weekend 6-for-12, feeling good about the extra work he has put in with hitting coach Derek Shelton. He also felt good that he rewarded his brother Craig, who drove six-plus hours from Mississippi to see Sunday's game, with the home run, not that it was by design. "That's probably what he thinks," Dickerson joked.

COBB REPORT: RHP Alex Cobb came through Saturday's final Tommy John surgery rehab start well and was to meet the team in Boston on Sunday night, with plans for his first start since September 2014 this weekend, likely Saturday, at home against Toronto. "I think he felt good by his results," Cash said. "It was good to go out there and kind of command the baseball the way he knows that's he able to do."

Cobb has to be activated from the DL today since his rehab assignment expired, so RHP Steve Geltz was sent back to Triple-A Durham after a one-day stint, and a shaky one-inning appearance, to provide bullpen coverage. OF Mikie Mahtook was sent down after Saturday's game to make room and will return in either 10 days or after the Bulls' season ends.

MISCELLANY: Though they lost their first series to the Astros since 2008, the Rays avoided their first sweep to Houston since the 2003 initial meeting. … LHP Blake Snell, forced from Saturday's game after being hit on the left ankle by a ball, said he was feeling better and expects to make his next start. … The Rays actually won't find out until Tuesday if OF Desmond Jennings, released Saturday, was claimed or cleared waivers and is a free agent. … 2B Logan Forsythe got the day off, and Evan Longoria was the DH. … C Bobby Wilson was sporting his New York Giants jersey and carrying his blue helmet around the clubhouse in preparation for Sunday night's team fantasy football league draft. … RHP Matt Andriese, who turned 27 Sunday, said he was eager for the challenge of facing the potent Red Sox again tonight in back-to-back starts.

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