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Rays ace Archer hasn't had 'A' slider

Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Chris Archer (22) after being relieved in the sixth inning of the game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Cleveland Indians in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Thursday, April 14, 2016.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Chris Archer (22) after being relieved in the sixth inning of the game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Cleveland Indians in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Thursday, April 14, 2016.

BOSTON — RHP Chris Archer still doesn't feel he has pitched poorly in getting off to a bad start this season, 0-3 with a hefty 5.87 ERA.

"In all three of my starts I thought I threw the ball well minus maybe an inning or two here or there," he said. "It kind of stinks how your whole outing can be defined by a couple of hitters or even one inning. But I've done a lot of good things this year."

But in pointing that out, how he had one "tough" outing against Baltimore and allowed only two earned runs in the other two starts, Archer — who starts tonight against the Red Sox — admitted, "I haven't even been myself."

Specifically, that his slider — which last year was being heralded as one of the best pitches in all of baseball — hasn't been very good.

"I haven't had my 'A' slider yet," Archer said. "And I've still had some pretty decent results. I'm thinking that I can definitely use my changeup a little bit more. My fastball has been okay.

"But at the end of the day, the sharpness of my slider has been the difference maker. Look at the balls that I've had damage on, they are non-executed sliders. Maybe some decent action, but not in the right location."

Why?

Archer acknowledged that he didn't throw his slider much during the spring, in part because he had "other focuses," such as working on the changeup. But he said when he did throw the slider — and remember, he didn't pitch in a regular exhibition his last three outings — he said it "was good, it was fine, it was normal in spring training."

OLD FRIEND ALERT: Former Rays All-Star LHP David Price said he has adjusted well to being with the once-rival Red Sox after signing a seven-year, $217 million deal.

"It's been going good," Price said. "Everybody is treating me just like one of the guys. That's all I can ask for. They've all made me feel extremely comfortable. And just day by day, it feels better and better and better. It's comfortable."

Price has been something of a mentor for Archer, and he is confident after a recent text exchange his protege quickly will get straightened out.

"He's human," Price said. "He's going to go through his struggles. That's part of it. That's everybody in this game. It's the ones that can stop those struggles at two starts, three starts and get that ball rolling back in the right direction. And he'll be able to do that just fine. His work ethic, his care factor, he's got all that stuff going for him. So I don't look for this to be a lingering effect."

PITCHING IN: RHP Jake Odorizzi will start the Thursday matinee against Price as the Rays apparently will keep their rotation in order until Saturday.

That's when they will need an extra starter by virtue of playing five straight days, with RHP Erasmo Ramirez again expected to fill in, as he did last Saturday, and well. By slotting Ramirez in Saturday, the Rays split up LHPs Matt Moore, who will start Friday, and Drew Smyly, who goes Sunday.

Manager Kevin Cash said "it really wasn't much of a decision" based primarily on "not affecting the rest of the guys."

HIT CLUB: With his third-inning double, 3B Evan Longoria has now hit in 15 straight games at Fenway Park. The only longer streak by a Ray in a visiting park was Jason Bartlett hitting in 20 straight at Baltimore's Camden Yards from 2008-10. Fred McGriff hit in 15 straight at Yankee Stadium from 1998-2001.

MISCELLANY: First-pitch temperature was a nippy 47 degrees. … The fan struck by a foul ball in Friday's game was released from the hospital (See story, 3B). … Logan Morrison went 0-for-5 to drop to 2-for-37 for the season, but Cash said he saw some good swings. … C Curt Casali struck out four times.

Rays ace Archer hasn't had 'A' slider 04/19/16 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 20, 2016 1:01am]
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