Tuesday, January 23, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Chris Archer stellar, offense erupts as Rays rout Rangers

ARLINGTON, Texas — Watching from the bed in his room at the team's Fort Worth hotel Tuesday as the Rays ran through their bullpen in what turned out to be a frustrating 14-inning loss, Chris Archer knew what he had to do Wednesday.

So even when he got off to a rough start, walking the second and third hitters in the Texas lineup, he remained focused on executing pitches so he could get deep in the game.

By the time he got to Alex Rios, the fifth batter, he settled down. Then he settled in to deliver a sterling performance in the Rays' 10-1 win, allowing only four hits over seven innings while striking out a career-high 12.

"He had everything going on," manager Joe Maddon said. "He really controlled the evening.''

Of course it helped that his teammates also shrugged off any aftereffects of the 3-2 loss, grabbing a 5-0 lead on a first-inning homer by Matt Joyce and two-run blasts in the second by Sean Rodriguez and Brandon Guyer.

The Rays improved to 5-4 on the cross-country road trip that concludes tonight and 59-61 overall, remaining six games, and five teams, back in the race for the second American League wild-card.

"You lose a tough game like that on the road, you come back with a great bounce the next night,'' Maddon said. "Proud of the boys.''

Archer flirted with a couple of interesting accomplishments.

Starting with the slider he got Rios to swing at to end the first, Archer struck out six consecutive batters — one shy of the team record held not by David Price or James Shields or Scott Kazmir but Andy Sonnanstine.

Not that he noticed.

"I didn't even know that happened," Archer said. "It's just one of those situations where you get in a zone and you black out and your hard work and practice take over and you get the best possible result you can."

Archer was aware he carried a no-hitter into the fifth, saying "it was in my mind and I think I had the stuff to do it.'' But knowing how difficult it is, he said he wasn't let down when Leonys Martin doubled to open the fifth.

Archer gave up another hit to the next batter, and then a run, and allowed back-to-back singles in the sixth. But it was still an impressive, and much needed, performance, striking out every Texas starter at least once.

"He was just powering the ball,'' Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "Sometimes he'd hit his spot with it, sometimes he wouldn't. He was effectively wild."

Maddon liked how Archer responded to the few spots of trouble, hiking his velocity to 97-98 and sharpening his slider, but even more so how he handled it once the Rays went up early.

"Even after we had gotten the lead, it was still up to Archie to take command of the moment, and he did, and that was nice,'' Maddon said. "Sometimes, a young starting pitcher, he'll catch a wave like that and all of a sudden it can get away from him, but he held on really nicely.''

It was that kind of night — a welcome breather after playing 35 innings the previous three days — with Texas using catcher J.P. Arencibia to pitch the ninth.

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