Wednesday, November 22, 2017
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays' Archer returns to form

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ST. PETERSBURG — RHP Chris Archer looked Sunday like he did during his red-hot July, when he won American League pitcher and rookie of the month honors.

But he said that during his strong seven-inning outing against the Blue Jays, he felt the same as he did during his past three August starts, when the results weren't as good (0-2, 6.59 ERA).

"Just the 2-3 inches I've been missing the past couple games, I wasn't missing," Archer said.

Archer gave a lot of credit to his defense, which featured a few more great plays by 3B Evan Longoria and a leaping catch against the wall by LF Matt Joyce. "Without that," Archer said, "the outcome wouldn't have been the same."

But manager Joe Maddon said that Archer, who walked none, was sharp from the get-go, with better command, a great slider and plenty of poise. Archer gave up a homer to 1B Edwin Encarnacion with two outs in the seventh, the first of three straight hits. Maddon said he yelled at Archer to stay in the present and forget about it, and the 24-year-old did just that, retiring Mark DeRosa to end the inning.

"That was outstanding," Maddon said. "That was a really big moment."

HEATING UP: With a homer and a double, Longoria now has 10 extra-base hits in his past 11 games after having seven in his previous 33. "I've felt more comfortable at the plate," Longoria said. "I've said it before, really I just want to hit the ball on the barrel, and you can't really control where it ends up, but I've had better at-bats, I've been swinging at strikes. And that's really a step in the right direction, and the results are just a byproduct of that."

READY TO GO? CF Desmond Jennings (fractured left middle finger) is expected to be activated from the disabled list today and rejoin the team in Baltimore. Jennings, out since breaking the finger Aug. 3, played for Class A Charlotte on Sunday and went 1-for-3, the last test before coming back. RHP Brandon Gomes, who came off the DL Saturday, is likely going to get optioned to Triple-A Durham to make room for Jennings.

ON TRACK: LHP Matt Moore, on the DL with elbow soreness, said he felt great playing catch with head athletic trainer Ron Porterfield, making 55 throws from 75 feet, which Maddon called a "very encouraging moment."

"It went exactly like we wanted it to," Moore said.

Moore traveled with the team to Baltimore and will play catch today. If all goes well, he will advance to a bullpen session later this week, Maddon said. Though there's still no timetable for his return to the rotation, Moore was relieved that after taking three days off due to elbow discomfort in a bullpen session he was pain-free Sunday.

"It does feel good to pick up where I was four days ago with having some serious progress," Moore said.

Aching Back: DH Luke Scott, placed on the DL Saturday with back spasms, said he has learned from his previous experience with the injury that it's painful and unpredictable. "Imagine taking electric cables and plug them into your back — it paralyzes you," Scott said. "They come and go. I've had times where it's been three days and they're gone, and I've had it where it's been 10 days, so you've just got to let them calm down and go from there."

HAPPY HOMECOMING: Jays RHP Todd Redmond, the St. Petersburg native and Northside Christian product, put on an impressive show for his hometown supporters. Redmond gave up one run over six innings, striking out four in a no-decision. "It was very satisfying," Redmond said. "With all of my friends and family there, I couldn't ask for anything more."

MINOR MATTERS: INF Ryan Roberts cleared waivers and accepted his outright assignment to Durham, where he'll report today. … Durham RHP J.D. Martin set a Bulls record with his 15th victory of the season Sunday.

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