Sunday, January 21, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays' Chris Archer dominant again

TAMPA — Rays RHP Chris Archer was right, of course, in insisting that there are some things he can still improve on.

"I'm in a growth state of mind right now," the 25-year-old right-hander said Sunday afternoon. "I can always find something to get better at and hone my craft."

But it was hard to find much wrong in his outing against the Yankees' top hitters as he worked impressively into the fourth of a 3-3, 10-inning tie, allowing two hits while clocking 97 mph with precise command and control.

"He was dominant," C Ryan Hanigan said. "You could tell by the swings they were taking the type of stuff he's got."

It was the second strong outing of the spring, after Boston last week, by Archer, who is entering what is expected to be his first full season in the majors.

Manager Joe Maddon liked everything he saw as Archer faced a top five of Jacoby Ellsbury, Derek Jeter, Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann and Alfonso Soriano.

"His whole comfort level out there, I really enjoyed it," Maddon said. "They had a pretty good lineup in there, and he came after them and he threw strikes. He pitched confidently, and that was one of the most impressive parts of what he did."

Archer said he wasn't thinking about the radar gun readings but felt that an increased offseason regimen paid off. "I don't want to burn out too early by any means, but I'm glad I can go out there and relatively easy sustain my velocity," he said.

TAKING THE FIFTH: Three of the four remaining candidates for the No. 5 starter's job are scheduled to work today against the Red Sox: RHP Jake Odorizzi and LHPs Erik Bedard and Cesar Ramos.

Though a decision is expected in the next 10 or so days, Maddon said they are not evaluating how the pitchers do as much as what they do and how they do it.

"As this continues to play out it's hard to really look at it as a performance race," he said. "You've got to look under the hood a little bit to get to the point where you think who is going to play better in the big leagues this year."

Odorizzi is excited for his first start after working twice in relief, which he said makes a difference because he will get to go through his usual full prestart routine, rather than being limited to warming up in the bullpen.

Also, he will have several innings to incorporate his full repertoire rather than focusing, as he has been, on his new pitch, the hybrid splitter-changeup he picked up from Alex Cobb known as "The Thing."

"It'll be good to get back in the swing of things and be able to pitch like I'm a starter," Odorizzi said.

The other candidate, RHP Nathan Karns, is scheduled to start Wednesday in Dunedin, with Cobb instead pitching a minor-league game in Port Charlotte.

MEDICAL MATTERS: RHP Joel Peralta said Sunday morning in Port Charlotte that his neck was still "a little stiff" but he didn't expect to be out long, though he would have a better gauge after playing catch. He left Saturday's game after tweaking his neck reacting to a comebacker. … 2B Ben Zobrist, scratched Saturday with a stiff neck, is on the travel list for today, and Maddon said it's realistic that he'll play. … OF David DeJesus, out since Tuesday with right-side soreness, is expected back Tuesday, or shortly thereafter.

GAME DETAILS: The Rays (5-2-2) took a 2-0 lead in the seventh, on a sequence set up by a Sean Rodriguez bunt, and were ahead 3-1 in the eighth but couldn't hold it. A throwing error by nonroster C Eddy Rodriguez (with SS Hak-Ju Lee breaking late to the base) and a wild pitch by LHP prospect Braulio Lara led to Yankees runs. … 1B James Loney had the defensive highlight, a diving stop to rob Jeter. … RHP Josh Lueke, a leading candidate for a bullpen job, had good movement on the splitter he has been working on.

MISCELLANY: Today is the Rays' second of six spring games with the new instant replay system in use; there was one challenge, by Toronto, Friday in their first. … The club will donate proceeds from Tuesday's single-game ticket sales to several Charlotte County community partners.

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