CLEVELAND — Manager Joe Maddon chalked up the Rays' 5-0 loss to the Indians on Saturday partly to the fact that his team was "legitimately" and understandably tired.
Having arrived in town after 3 a.m. Friday morning from Miami, the Rays then played until nearly the same time Saturday morning in a 9-2 win, thanks to five hours of rain delays in the latest game in club history.
Tampa Bay returned six hours later to prepare for the first pitch of Saturday's matinee, which turned into a resounding defeat — on a rain-less day at Progressive Field — that snapped a six-game winning streak.
"Twenty-four hours in a day kind of got us," Maddon said.
But what also got the Rays (30-25) was the fact that their admittedly most "well-rested" player, right-hander Chris Archer, struggled in his season debut, allowing five runs, including two homers, in four-plus innings. Archer was sent back to the team hotel Friday night and was asleep before 11 p.m., excited to show the Indians, who drafted him in the fifth round in 2006, what they're "missing out on."
But Archer missed his spots too often, his fastball command a "battle" throughout, and two of his hanging changeups resulted in two-run homers, one by veteran Jason Giambi.
Archer's day was done three hitters into the fifth, when Nick Swisher ripped a 3-and-0 pitch back up the middle, nicking Archer's left arm and briefly knocking him on his backside.
"You fall behind a good-hitting team and then leave pitches up, you're going to get banged," Archer said. "A good hitting team got me on a day when I was a little off."
Archer said the key will be how he "bounces back," and despite the rough outing, Maddon said there's "no reason to think he would not get that next opportunity."
"He's a great young pitcher; he's going to be very, very good," Maddon said. "You saw it last year at different moments, but he struggled (Saturday) with his command."
Giambi, who had three RBIs, said Archer has an "incredible arm."
"He has a big future," Giambi said. "But he threw me a changeup up in the zone, and I was able to square it up."
Giambi couldn't touch Alex Torres, however, as the Rays left-hander — called up Saturday to aid the worn-out bullpen — threw four scoreless innings, striking out six. "Outstanding," Maddon said.
But the Rays couldn't muster much against Indians right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez, a former All-Star who allowed four hits through a season-high eight innings, striking out seven. Maddon said Jimenez was getting the Rays to chase off-speed pitches out of the zone, and "you have a tendency to chase more when you're tired."
But, as leftfielder Kelly Johnson pointed out, the Indians "were tired, too."
"Obviously, we didn't threaten," Johnson said. "We never got a big situation. We never had a second and third, bases loaded, one of those things where there's pressure on them. It was probably one of the easier games they've played. Hopefully, we can get back (today) and it will feel really good considering the weather and the situation."
Joe Smith can be reached at email@example.com.