Saturday, July 21, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays explode on Blue Jays for second straight game

TORONTO — Chris Archer still didn't look sharp, evidenced by the 32 pitches it took him to get through a rough first inning Tuesday that saw him hand back the one-run lead his Tampa Bay mates had just presented him.

But when you have a high-powered offense like the Rays' behind you, such slight hindrances are apparently no problem.

The rumbling Rays pounded the Blue Jays again, rapping a season high-matching 17 hits on their way to a 12-2 win.

That came after they punched out 17 hits and a season-most 13 runs on Monday, marking the first time they've had back-to-back games with 17 or more hits since April 2009 and 12 or more runs since the dark green days of 2007.

"We've talked a lot about the offense and the home runs, that's how we're scoring runs," manager Kevin Cash said. "The home runs are great. But actually you score more runs when you're passing it on to the next guy, and we've seen that definitely have a positive effect the last two days."

The barrage, most of which came off Jays ace Marcus Stroman, was obviously a team effort as the Rays improved to 18-19, but a few performances stood out:

That list had to be led by Logan Morrison who, in his 87th at-bat, drove in his first run of the season, on a fielder's choice grounder in the third, but then came back with a single in the fifth for his second.

"RBI machine — got my first two in the middle of May," Morrison said. "I feel like it's not what you've done, it's what you're gonna do."

Cash remains resolute that Morrison will still do a lot: "Great to see him get on the board. Now we can move past that conversation and get on to with it … and we look up at the end of the year and he's got 65, 75 RBIs."

Also, Kevin Kiermaier had three hits, along with Brad Miller, who knocked in three runs and was a home run shy of the cycle — until being hit for in the ninth by Taylor Motter, who, in his second big-league game, delivered the home run.

"Before I went to hit, I was like, you know what, I'd love to see you go for the cycle right here," Motter said. "He goes, man, just finish it up for me. And I went on deck, and it actually happened, which was pretty cool."

Archer, meanwhile, righted himself after the two-walk, two-hit, two-run (on a Jose Bautista home run) first and worked his way through six innings, allowing two more hits and two more walks along the way, throwing 105 pitches, with 60 for strikes.

"Being able to pitch five scoreless innings after how it started is something I can hang my hat on," Archer said. "Definitely always room for improvement.

"But team victory, I went six innings, gave up less than the other team. So I'm happy about it."

Getting started has been an issue for Archer, who threw 33 pitches and walked three in the first inning last time out in Seattle, and he planned to be more aggressive Tuesday from the first pitch.

Despite the results, both Archer and Cash insisted progress was made.

"I thought there was a completely different intent and mind-set today in the first inning," Cash said, noting a "unique" Toronto approach to not chase anything down in the zone. "They laid off some good pitches."

Archer, noting ump Mark Wegner's well-known tight strike zone, said, "In my mind, I was more aggressive. And it's a step in the right direction."

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

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