BOSTON — About the only thing good in RHP Chris Archer's Friday start against the Red Sox was that he didn't feel any of the forearm tightness that forced him from his previous outing last Saturday after just eight pitches.
Because pretty much everything Archer threw Friday, the Red Sox hit, scoring eight runs in knocking him out in the fourth inning on the way to a 9-3 win over Tampa Bay.
"They found a way to hit balls hard and hit balls soft and find hits, but if I execute at a higher level I'm at least able to limit the damage," Archer said.
"I felt fine; that's the only positive I can take from (Friday night), is that I felt good and my stuff was good. But I have to execute better."
The odd thing about it was that Archer looked to have good stuff, specifically a fastball that had high velocity and good location down in the zone.
"A fairly head-scratching performance," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "I thought he had a good fastball and his breaking ball was good, I thought their approach was just better. They spit on the good slider and took advantage of the ones that were just up in the zone."
Archer was in trouble from the start, allowing singles to the first two hitters and then a line drive home run by Mookie Betts just inside the Pesky Pole in short rightfield in what ended up a 33-pitch first inning. The fourth was even messier as all five batters Archer faced got on base, four rapping hits and the other on an error.
For his three-plus innings, Archer threw 81 pitches (53 strikes), allowing 11 of the 20 Sox he faced to reach base, nine on hits.
Maybe returning against Boston wasn't such a good idea; Archer is now 2-12, 5.46 in 19 starts against the Sox.
Contributing to the bad night that dropped the Rays to 70-72, and 4½ games back for the second wild card, was the lack of offense.
The Rays were held without a hit into the fifth inning by Red Sox starter Drew Pomeranz, Brad Miller singling with one out and then Jesus Sucre hitting a two-run homer. They finished with five hits overall.
Souza leaves early with bruised knee
The Rays are hopeful RF Steven Souza Jr. sustained only a bruised left knee in what looked initially to be a severe injury after crashing into the side wall in pursuit of Christian Vazquez's single in the fourth.
The Rays said Souza will undergo an X-ray and be seen by a doctor today, but an initial exam by head athletic trainer Ron Porterfield didn't indicate any structural damage.
"I mean as soon as I hit I had a pretty sharp pain in my kneecap," Souza said, "So, yeah, I don't know, I felt a little more positive when Ron did tests for any ligament damage and there was nothing. Just when you go into a wall with that kind of impact, you get a little nervous."
Cash said the issue was in the kneecap area, though they were encouraged that Souza was able to put some weight on it as he was helped walking off the field.
"We're optimistic that if something was really wrong in there he probably wouldn't have been able to put the weight on it,'' Cash said.
Still, Souza was wearing a brace on the knee after the game, and Cash said it was "highly doubtful" he would be in the lineup tonight.
"Obviously he's going to be pretty sore,'' Cash said.
Said Souza: "I feel okay, that's kind of where I'll leave it. I feel okay right now."
Souza has been one of the Rays' most productive players all season, hitting .246 with 29 homers, 77 RBIs and an .828 OPS, though he has been slumping of late, with just one hit in his past 16 at-bats.
Cedeno, Eovaldi on rehab trail
LHP Xavier Cedeno, out since April with forearm issues, and RHP Nathan Eovaldi, recovering from August 2016 Tommy John surgery, joined Double-A Montgomery for its playoff game tonight in Chattanooga, Tenn. Both said they were excited to progress to this stage and were hopeful of getting in two-three rehab appearances and making it back to the majors before the ens of the season. … RHP Jake Faria, out since Aug. 17 with an abdominal strain, accompanied the Rays to Boston, but a decision is still pending on whether he needs a rehab appearance or will be activated and likely pitch out of the bullpen.
Not so minor matters
Triple-A Durham missed out on a chance to clinch its best best-of-five opening round International League playoffs series, losing 5-0 Friday to Indianapolis (Pirates), with starter RHP Burch Smith putting the Bulls in an early hole. Game 4 is tonight with top RHP prospect Brent Honeywell on the mound as they seek to advance to the Governors Cup finals for the 11th time in 20 seasons as a Rays affiliate. … Double-A Montgomery fell behind 2-1 in its best-of-five Southern League playoff series with a 2-0 loss to Chattanooga (Twins), with Game 4 tonight. … Class A Bowling Green was eliminated from the Midwest League playoffs with a 6-4 Thursday loss to Fort Wayne (Padres). … Short-season Class A Hudson Valley, featuring top pick 1B/LHP Brendan McKay, opens the best-of-three New York-Penn League playoffs tonight vs. Staten Island (Yankees) with RHP Tobias Myers, acquired in the Tim Beckham trade, starting.
. The Rays homered in their 18th consecutive game, a franchise record for a single season. Their overall mark is 21 games bridging 2015-16.
. RHP Alex Cobb will start on schedule Sunday against the Red Sox after having no issues in Friday's bullpen session with a small blister/cut on a finger. RHP Jake Odorizzi will start Monday against the Yankees.
. RHP Matt Andriese expects to pitch better, and longer, than in Sunday's five-runs-in-five-innings return from a two-plus month DL stint for a hip injury when faces the Red Sox tonight. "I wasn't happy with how the results were if you look at the box score, but I was happy with how I felt," he said.