Sunday, January 21, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Tampa Bay Rays reliever Chris Archer stellar even though odd day ends with loss

BALTIMORE — RHP Chris Archer was on the mound when the Rays lost 3-2 in the 14th inning Thursday, but it was what the 23-year-old rookie did to get them to that point that was most memorable.

Specifically in the 13th inning, when Archer had the bases loaded with one out and the dangerous Matt Wieters up with a 3-and-0 count, and he got out of it.

"I'll be honest with you, the atmosphere of the team, the aura of the team, helped me be confident and have no doubt about that outcome," Archer said. "The word 'walk' didn't even cross my mind."

He gave an assist to 1B Carlos Peña, with whom he had several talks about "finding stillness in a storm." When Archer looked in the dugout, Peña had his arms out at his sides. "That was basically like, find your stillness," Archer said.

He found that, and more.

The bases were loaded, in part, due to Archer's throwing error on a bunt and, in a five-man infield alignment with Reid Brignac coming off the bench, the Rays got the first out at home on Robert Andino's ground out. Archer then roared back from 3-and-0 to strike out Wieters, then Nate McLouth.

"You've got to appreciate what Archer did," manager Joe Maddon said. "That was outstanding. To come in under those circumstances and the way he pitched right till the very end and give it up on a ball that basically falls off the leftfielder's glove, that was tremendous to watch."

And that was after Archer made a dramatic entrance. He was warming up to pitch the bottom of the 11th inning, as Maddon, who had already given up the DH, planned to double-switch him and INF Elliot Johnson in and take out 2B Ryan Roberts.

But Roberts fouled a ball off his left shin during his at-bat in the top of the 11th and couldn't continue. So rather than burn an extra player, Maddon summoned Archer from the bullpen and had him, under strict orders not to swing, finish the at-bat and the inning by taking strike three. "That was really weird," Archer said.

ROBERTS HURT: For the second time in three days, Roberts left the game hurt and needed X-rays but apparently was okay. He was limping noticeably after the game but said there was no break, and he hoped to play tonight. "I'm ready to leave here," he said. … LF Desmond Jennings returned to the lineup after missing four games due to a stiff back, and Maddon said he should be good to keep playing.

MINOR MATTERS: Short-season Class A Hudson Valley won the third and decisive game of the N.Y.-Penn League Championship Series, 8-3 over Tri-City as Brandon Henderson got the win. It was the Renegades' first title since 1999.

MISCELLANY: CF B.J. Upton, who labeled Thursday's game a must-win and went 0-for-6, declined comment. … The Rays used a team-record 26 players and a record-tying nine pitchers. … The Orioles have won five straight over the Rays and lead the season series 9-6. … LHP David Price pitches tonight with no concerns that the shoulder soreness that caused him to miss his last start will be an issue.

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