Tuesday, January 16, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays lose Archer to injury, game to Diamondbacks

PHOENIX — Losing Wednesday's game was bad enough for the Rays, having rallied twice, including a spirited four-run seventh, only to fall 9-8 when the Diamondbacks rallied back in the eighth.

Making it worse, they lost rookie starter Chris Archer in the second inning with right forearm tightness and rookie outfielder Wil Myers at a key moment in the seventh with asthma issues.

Archer said he felt abnormal tightness during two different pitches but is confident it's "nothing serious" and that he will be able to make his next start on Tuesday.

Myers had issues when playing previously in Arizona and said the combination of having trouble breathing and feeling dizzy in the field forced him from the game, but he expects to be back on Friday.

There wasn't a positive spin to put on the game, however, as the Rays' usually solid bullpen failed them, from Alex Torres to Fernando Rodney, and three relievers in between.

"That's tough,'' manager Joe Maddon said. "It's something we normally don't do is give things up in the bullpen, but we did tonight.''

The loss was the Rays fourth in their last six games, dropping them to 66-47 and 2½ games behind the American League East-leading Red Sox. It ended their streak of non-losing series at 13, going back to losing two of three at Boston June 18-19 at Boston, and was the first time they were swept since April 30-May 1 at Kansas City.

"A bad night,'' reliever Joel Peralta said.

Nothing appeared visibly wrong with Archer as he worked through the first inning, struck out looking in the top of the second and got two quick outs in the bottom of the second.

But catcher Jose Molina noticed him grimace after a pitch to the second batter and again after he threw a strike on his eighth pitch to get to a 2-and-1 count on the next hitter, and summoned manager Joe Maddon and head athletic trainer Ron Porterfield to the mound.

"It was kind of one of those things,'' Archer said, "where, "Oh, that felt a little weird" and then the next pitch, "Hmm, that's tight" and then that's when Molina came out.''

Maddon said once Archer mentioned forearm tightness he was definitely coming out of the game no matter what else he said for precaution.

"Whenever a young pitcher tells you that, I'm not gonna mess around,'' Maddon said. "We believe he's going to be fine. He's probably going to be able to make his next start.''

Archer said there was "no doubt" in his opinion, that he underwent basic tests with the Arizona team doctor that were all good and that it even may have been just a cramp. "Cramp, tightness, I don't know what it's called,'' he said. "It felt a little abnormal and they didn't feel comfortable leaving me in.''

Myers was due to bat at a key moment in the seventh, right after Evan Longoria doubled in two runs to pull the Rays to within 7-6, when Sam Fuld was sent up as a pinch-hitter, which surely didn't seem strategic even with a right-hander on the mound, though even after the D'backs switched to lefty Joe Thatcher, Fuld delivered anyway, a two-run single that put them up 8-7.

Myers said he needed to use his inhaler after scoring from first base in the first inning, and then felt worse after making a running catch in center to end the fifth inning and beating out an infield single to start the sixth.

"That's when I really started feeling it and my chest started hurting,'' he said. He played the field in the bottom of the sixth but started to become dizzy - though he made a catch to end the inning - and had to leave the game at that point. His blood pressure was checked by the doctor and he said he felt better after lying down.

"The dizziness was what was concerning for me to be able to keep playing,'' he said. "I don't know how it would have went for another at-bat.''

Myers said asthma first became an issue when he played in the Arizona Fall League in 2011, that he twice had to be removed from games. "It's just something I deal with in higher elevations or in Arizona with the thin air I'm not used to,'' he said. Maddon said he was not aware of Myers' condition until it became an issue on Wednesday.

The lead Longoria and Fuld got the Rays didn't last long. After seeing Torres, Kyle Farnsworth and Jake McGee all fail, Maddon planned to get the final nine outs from Peralta and Rodney.

Peralta, who got three quickly in the seventh, got another to start the eighth, but allowed a walk and a single. "The walk was the worst part,'' Peralta said. "It was tough today.''

Maddon then summoned Rodney for what would have been a five-out save, but it didn't get that far. He walked Adam Eaton to load the bases then allowed a two-run single to Martin Prado.

The Rays had taken a 3-0 lead in the first as five of their first six reached against Randall Delgado. Yunel Escobar had the big hit, a two-out, two-run double.

Archer gave one back in the first, then the usually remarkably reliable Torres, who took over for Archer, gave the lead up in the third, allowing a two-run homer to Prado and an RBI double to Aaron Hill.

The Rays tied it in the fourth when former D'back Kelly Johnson, whom Maddon put in the lineup to add offense, hit an opposite-field homer.

That didn't last long as the D'backs rallied in the fifth against Farnsworth and McGee — with help from a defensive miscue by Johnson — scored three and took a 7-4 lead.

Maddon called for McGee to face hot-swinging Eric Chavez with two on and one out, but Chavez singled in a run, then Johnson misplayed Hill's fly ball to left into an RBI double and Chavez eventually scored on a sac fly.

Maddon raved about how hard the Rays played, but they did ground into five double plays, one off the team record, and made some mistakes too, particularly Matt Joyce, who had three hits and two baserunning blunders.

Maddon said it was "not so bad" that Joyce tried to move up to second on a fly to right, but he should not have gotten caught off second when Longoria grounded to shortstop in the first inning. "Kind of like Baserunning 101,'' Maddon said. "That should not happen.''

But what bothered Maddon most was the overall failure of the relievers, who were rested and ready.

"Our bullpen was just not normal tonight,'' he said. "Our bullpen is normally a little more lock down than that. ... That's the part that didn't make a whole lot of sense.''

Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @TBTimes_Rays.

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