ST. PETERSBURG — RHP Chris Archer acknowledged that he's frustrated by all the two-strike hits he has given up recently.
"Extremely," he said.
That has hurt him during his recent struggles, including Sunday's 6-5 loss to the Indians. Cleveland was 6-for-11 with two walks against Archer in two-strike counts, including LF Nyjer Morgan's check-swing dribbler and CF Michael Bourn's two-out double in the second, and C Yan Gomes' solo homer in the sixth.
"It comes down to execution; it's not about stuff," manager Joe Maddon said. "That, to me, is a younger pitcher that's going to keep getting better, just understanding what to do to put a guy away."
Archer, who gave up four runs and four walks in five innings, has gone five innings or fewer in three consecutive starts for the first time in his career. In those outings, he's 0-1 with a 7.36 ERA.
"I've been working hard my whole career to be consistent, and I'm having a tough stretch of games right now," Archer said. "But it's not going to derail the effort I put in. The worst part is letting your teammates down. But then as soon as the game is over, they remind you you're not letting them down as long as you're putting in your best effort. I'm going to continue to do that, and I have full conviction that if that's what I do, it's going to turn for me. The tide is going to turn. This is all temporary."
NO WORRIES: CF Desmond Jennings, hit on the top of the left hand with a pitch in the eighth, said postgame X-rays were good and he felt fine. "Not a problem at all," he said. Maddon said they wouldn't know until today if he would play in the series opener against the Mariners tonight.
LEANING LEFT: LHP Cesar Ramos enters tonight's start in Seattle encouraged with how he has progressed, allowing a combined three earned runs in his past two starts against the Orioles and Red Sox. "It's been huge, especially facing the AL East lineups, that's always a challenge for anyone," Ramos said. "It's a huge confidence booster knowing, 'I can do this. I'm very well capable just as anyone else is.' It doesn't matter who I'm facing, I've still got to go out there, and the task at hand is to go deep into the game."
Ramos, who had made three big-league starts before this season, said his body has adjusted to the ups and downs, and starting has become "normal."
BELL to be released: The Rays told RHP Heath Bell they planned to release him today. The veteran reliever was designated for assignment May 4 after going 1-1 with a 7.27 ERA in 13 appearances.
UNDER REVIEW: The Indians were helped by a successful replay challenge in the sixth, when Morgan reached first on a bunt single. Morgan slid headfirst but was called out after 3B Evan Longoria's throw. After a 1 minute, 2 second review, the call was overturned. Morgan advanced to second on a balk by RHP Brad Boxberger, went to third on a wild pitch, then scored on a sacrifice fly to make it 5-2.
The Rays didn't have as much luck in their challenge in the ninth. INF Logan Forsythe's out call at first was confirmed after a spectacular play by SS Asdrubal Cabrera.
MEDICAL MATTERS: RHP Jeremy Hellickson said he felt great one day after throwing a bullpen session and curveballs on flat ground. "That's a huge step," he said. Hellickson said he'll likely throw another bullpen session Tuesday and hoped to throw curveballs off the mound by Friday.
MISCELLANY: RHP Nate Karns had a strong start for Triple-A Durham on Sunday, allowing one run in 72/3 innings with six strikeouts. … Suspended RHP Alex Colome pitched well Saturday in his second rehab start for Class A Charlotte, giving up one hit in four innings.