Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Rays show signs of progress with series win over Rockies (w/video)

DENVER — There were several moments in the second inning alone Wednesday when it looked like the game would get away from the Rays, as so many others have during their month of misery.

The fly ball to left-center that both Corey Dickerson and Brandon Guyer misplayed. An ensuing walk, followed by the first-and-third bunt play — yep, just like the one the Rays used to favor but have abandoned — producing the tying run. Chris Archer walking opposing starter Jorge De La Rosa to load the bases.

Then the frustration of seeing what looked to be an inning-ending double play on rightfielder Steven Souza Jr.'s strong throw to the plate overturned in an agonizing 61/2-minute replay review with a convoluted explanation that didn't make sense then and may never.

That the Rays weathered all that and went on to roll to an 11-3 victory over the Rockies said something about their resolve, as well as their efforts, however sincere, to start fresh since the All-Star break.

"What are we, 3-3? We've played better baseball, there's no doubt," manager Kevin Cash said. "We've been in ball games like we think we're built to do. We've still got to find a way to work better than .500 at some point, but this was a really nice start to win a series on the road."

Indeed. The Rays winged further west Wednesday night having won their first consecutive games since June 14-15 (after which they lost 25 of 29), first series since June 27-29 against Boston and first road series since June 6-8 at Arizona. They have won three of their past four. However, they are still 37-57 overall.

As much as the offensive numbers — led by Tim Beckham's five hits — stood out Wednesday, Archer righting himself the way he did after the second, in which he allowed two runs and lost the lead — retiring 12 of his final 14, eight on strikeouts — was the most significant individual accomplishment of the steamy day.

The byproduct, not that it mattered in Archer's process-oriented view, was his first win since June 6, snapping his six-game skid and keeping his majors-most loss total at 13. He allowed just four hits and the two walks, striking out 11 to take over the AL lead with 147.

"The second inning, obviously we didn't help him out too much," Cash said. "We put him in a little bit of a jam, and he probably put himself in more of a jam. …

"I was really impressed the way he settled down and forgot about that inning and went out there and gave us a really good start."

Archer has now had a pair of solid outings, and three of his past four. Rookie Blake Snell showed Tuesday night the reason for the hype. Jake Odorizzi is showing signs of progress. Matt Moore has been pitching the best of all of them for the past month.

There is some thought around the Rays that — with the exception of Drew Smyly, who may be a lost cause, or at least having another lost season — the starters are finally, maybe, kinda sorta, pitching up to their capabilities, building off each other's success to put together strings of good games.

"I think it's that time," Archer said.

Cash had seen subtle signs of overall improvement over the week or two going into the break, even as they were losing games, and said they've continued to improve, benefiting from some rest and being markedly more efficient.

Okay, so say that — at this late date — they finally are pitching the way they were supposed to, giving the Rays that potentially dominating rotation that would carry them.

Now the question is whether they will get to keep pitching together.

Moore and Odorizzi have been heavily scouted by a number of contending teams looking for help in the 12 days before the Aug. 1 deadline for nonwaiver trades, and market economics make it reasonable and logical to think at least one will be dealt. Archer's name will continue to come up at least in speculation. Even Smyly's, despite his struggles.

"That's our strength, and I think going forward for this organization to have success we should keep this core of pitchers together," Archer said. "There are other thoughts that go into it as far as finances and stuff goes … I'm hoping that we can stay together."

Marc Topkin can be reached at mtopkin@tampabay.com.

Rays show signs of progress with series win over Rockies (w/video) 07/20/16 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 20, 2016 10:42pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Roger Mooney's takeaways from Saturday's Rays-Rangers game

    The Heater

    Judging by those who were asking for them before Saturday's giveaways, those who tried to get an extra one or two once inside the Trop and those who quickly slipped theirs on before finding their seats, the DJ Kitty Onesie might be the Rays' most popular giveaway. Ever.

  2. Rays vs. Rangers, 1:10 p.m. Sunday, Tropicana Field

    The Heater

    Today: vs. Rangers

    1:10, Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Florida; 620-AM, 760-AM (Spanish)

    PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - FEBRUARY 26:  Pitcher Jake Odorizzi #23 of the Tampa Bay Rays poses for a portrait at Charlotte Sports Park during photo day on February 26, 2014 in Port Charlotte, Florida.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
  3. Gators pick up commitment from 5-star QB Matt Corral

    Blogs

    Florida has picked up a major commitment toward its 2018 recruiting class, getting a pledge Saturday night from quarterback Matt Corral, rated a five-star recruit by Rivals and Scout.

  4. Warren Sapp has firsthand advice as Bucs try to toughen up

    Bucs

    TAMPA — It was a molten morning, surface of Mercury, on the football field at Skyway Park, near Tampa International Airport. Bucs Hall of Fame defensive tackle Warren Sapp was working with some Bucs defensive linemen. HBO Hard Knocks crews followed them. Training camp was a week away. Sapp pointed to Bucs …

    Bucs defensive tackle Warren Sapp made it clear as a rookie that he wasn’t backing down from anyone, mixing it up with the Dolphins during summer scrimmages. [Times file]
  5. Rays Tales: With Rays surprising buyers, a look back at previous deadline deals

    The Heater

    The buildup to this July 31 trading deadline is different for the Rays, for the rudimentary reason that they are working — feverishly, from what we hear — to add on to a team they feel has a legitimate chance to make a playoff run.

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher David Price (14) throws a strike to open up the first inning of the Pittsburgh Pirates at the Tampa Bay Rays in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, June 25, 2014.