Thursday, December 14, 2017
Tampa Bay Rays

Archer, Jennings lead Rays over Orioles

ST. PETERSBURG — Chris Archer changed his look from his start in Cleveland last week, switching to just-below-the-knee short pants and old-school stirrup socks.

And he significantly changed his results from his disappointing season debut, holding the potent Orioles to two hits over seven sterling innings Friday to lead the Rays to a 2-1 victory before 13,256 at Tropicana Field.

But the biggest reason for the difference, Archer said, was that he really didn't change that much at all, focusing merely on slight adjustments to better execute pitches in key moments, and getting big results by doing so.

"If you're consistent with the way you live, your actions, your words, your work ethic, you're going to get consistent results," Archer said. "So I don't really get worked up over a tough outing. Because I'm like, 'You know what, I'm going to come and show-out next outing. I'm going to show 'em that was a fluke, that was the one or two outings you struggle a year.' "

The top prospect showed 'em all right, allowing the one run after walking two in the third and then little else, retiring 13 of his last 14.

"He had good stuff," Orioles centerfielder Adam Jones said. "And he had us guessing."

Archer didn't do it all. Joel Peralta and Fernando Rodney, who has made seven straight scoreless appearances and converted his last four saves, finished.

And Desmond Jennings, hitting .344 since dropped down in the order, took care of the offense. Coming up with one on in the seventh, he decided at the last minute to swing away. "I thought about bunting, and then I didn't," he said.

Instead, he launched a two-run homer high off the glass facing of the centerfield restaurant, a blast estimated at 432 feet.

"Properly struck," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "That's like Manny Ramirez territory from several years ago. … Not many go there. When you hit a home run to dead centerfield and you know it from the moment the ball is struck, you've hit it well here."

The win was the Rays' ninth in their last 12 and pushed them to 33-27, but more important, with the bats relatively quiet for a fourth straight game (eight runs total, a .194 average), it was a return to their previous formula.

"That's what we're supposed to look like," Maddon said. "We're supposed to pitch well, hopefully get a timely hit, and play some defense. Listen, I'm not begrudging the offense, I'll take it. But long term, for us to win and get back to the playoffs and win the World Series, we have to pitch like that."

Archer, 24, took care of it. Called up to take his turn replacing injured ace David Price, Archer felt he was "just a little off" in Cleveland last week while allowing five runs in four innings. He said he was hurt mainly by failing to execute a few pitches, specifically his changeup, in key moments.

He worked on it, heeding pitching coach Jim Hickey's advice to "run out of arm" in getting fuller extension. And Friday, when he had to execute, the difference was that he did.

"I felt like I was in control the whole night," Archer said. "It was one of those special nights you're trying to tap into every game, and I was able to tap into it from pitch one."

     
                       
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