TORONTO — RHP Chris Archer takes the mound today for the Rays as they head into the final 40 games of the season with little margin for error as they battle for an American League playoff spot.
And he couldn't be more eager for the opportunity to lead the staff down the stretch pitching in big games as they go.
"I want it," Archer said Wednesday. "I haven't had too many opportunities, a handful maybe, but I want it. I love pitching in situations when games matter. And we have a few guys like so it's going to be really fun down the stretch."
Archer has won just once in seven starts since being named to his second All-Star team, but with a 3.56 ERA during that stretch it clearly hasn't been all his fault, as defense and run support factor in, as with all pitchers.
With an overall 8-7 record, 3.84 ERA that ranked 12th in the AL, 1591/3 innings (second most) and 197 strikeouts (also second) over 25 starts thus far, Archer is pretty pleased with what he has done.
"I feel really good," he said. "I've been giving up a few extra runs than I would have liked, but the overall body of work, it's up there. Just look across what I've done in my career (49-58, 3.57 in 153 games) and if you want to compare it with other people, I'm right there.
"I've yielded a few more runs than some of the other guys that serve the same role, but any other statistic you want to put out there, I'm right there with them. And that's all I can really ask for about myself."
RHP Chris Rowley starts for the Jays tonight with an interesting resume, as the first graduate of the Army's West Point Academy to make the majors and having spent most of 2014-15 in military uniform, serving at Fort Sill in Oklahoma and with stints in Bulgaria and Romania. Signed as undrafted free-agent, Rowley, now 27, pitched for the Dunedin-based Gulf Coast League team in 2013 then after a two-year Army hitch in the 2015 fall instructional league and for the advanced Class A Dunedin Blue Jays in 2016. He worked his way this season from Double A to Triple A and then to majors, debuting Aug. 12
RHP Alex Cobb (turf toe) "felt very good" in throwing a nearly 40-pitch bullpen session at the Trop on Wednesday, Cash said. "So that's great news. We'll see how his toe feels coming in (today)." There is no date set for Cobb's return to the rotation but it should be sometime next week. … CF Kevin Kiermaier (hip, back) was 0-for-3 with a walk as DH Wednesday for the advanced Class A Stone Crabs in his fourth game of this rehab assignment; he is slated to play the field tonight and be re-evaluated, eyeing a return this weekend.
• Familiar face, part I: RHP Erasmo Ramirez, who was traded back to Seattle on July 28, will start Friday for the Mariners at the Trop.
• Familiar face, part II: LHP J.P. Howell, a key reliever for the Rays during their 2008-12 run, was DFA'd by the Blue Jays, having posted a 7.36 ERA in 16 appearances.
• RHP Jake Faria got a long stare from Jays slugger Josh Donaldson after hitting him in the back in the third Wednesday, but the umpires and C Jesus Sucre made sure it didn't escalate. "I was definitely not trying to hit him,'' Faria said. "I wasn't preparing for him to come out. If he did, he did. Luckily things stayed calm.''
• SS Daniel Robertson said there was nothing he could do to avoid the sixth-inning play at second that left Toronto's Ryan Goins with a bruised and cut left arm. As Robertson jumped for a throw, Goins slid in with his arm under Robertson's foot. "He hit it pretty hard,'' Robertson said. "No one's fault, it just stinks.''
• Tuesday was the first time the Rays drew two bases loaded walks in a game since April 13, 2015, also at Toronto and also back-to-back.
Chart of the day
Facing Jays RHP Marco Estrada may have been just what the Rays needed Tuesday to break out of their slump. They've beaten him most consistently of pitchers with at least eight decisions against them:
Marco Estrada 8-1 .889
Daisuke Matsuzaka 8-2 .800
Justin Masterson 8-3 .727
Ricky Nolasco 7-3 .700
Jeff Weaver 8-4 .667