SEATTLE – The problem Saturday night was a third-inning sequence in which Rays starter Chris Archer allowed a two-out four-pitch walk that led to three straight hits and a pair of runs and, given the lack of offensive support, eventually a 3-1 loss.
But the bigger concern may be the tightness Archer felt in his groin that bothered him during the game and was a factor in his departure after five innings.
"It was a little tight, has been a little tight," Archer said. "I wish I could have gave the team a little bit more length, but I think from a precautionary standpoint it was smart."
The issue was first apparent during that third inning sequence when manager Kevin Cash and head athletic trainer Joe Benge went to the mound to check on their top starter. All agreed he would stay in then, though that was during the sequence that led to the two Seattle runs.
Archer said he'd see how he felt Sunday to get a sense of how big of a worry it may be. Cash seemed to think doctors will be involved.
"He'll probably get checked out here in the next day or two and see how it is," Cash said. "I'm not overly concerned right now … I'm not overly concerned just because of the way the ball was coming out of his hand, but it tightened up a bit."
The loss was the Rays third straight, and dropped them back under .500 at 28-29. And while Seattle is a great place to visit for seafood and scenery, it hasn't been much for the Rays as they've now lost their last eight here.
Coming off a solid May in which he lowered his ERA form 6.61 to 4.29, Archer was not overly sharp, allowing the first two Mariners batters to reach by escaping trouble. Cash, though, thought his velocity was up and his slider impressive.
After walking Segura on four pitches with the two outs, then allowed three straight hits – singles by Mitch Haniger (who won Friday's game with a walkoff homer) and Nelson Cruz, then a double by Kyle Seager.
"I didn't feel like the game go away from me, but that's what led to them scoring runs in that one inning," Archer said. "f we continue to only allow two, three runs we're going to continue to win and stay hot. The past two games have been tough, but if we keep throwing the ball and playing "D" we'll put up some runs."
That was another issue as the Rays' bats were quiet again, shut down and for five innings shut out by Seattle starter Marco Gonzales, who worked into the seventh.
They finally broke through in the sixth, and came inches short of tying it. Matt Duffy was on first with two outs when Ramos laced a ball that hit the yellow-striped pad atop the left-centerfield wall and bounced back into play. Duffy scored, but Ramos had to stop at second, and a crew chief video review showed that's where he belonged. Rookie outfielder Johnny Field took a third strike to end it.
"I hit that ball really well but it was a line drive," Ramos said. "If I hit it more in the air it's a homer."
Archer was effective but not efficient, running his pitch count up to 92 over five innings, which is where his night ended, seemingly early. At one point in the third inning, manager Kevin Cash and head athletic trainer Joe Benge came out to check on Archer. After some back-and-forth, mouths shielded discussion, Archer said the right things to stay in.
It was a one-run game when Archer was taken out, and Cash made a curious decision in bringing in just acquired Wilmer Font.
Though he had posted zeroes in his two outings for the Rays, Font had allowed at least one run in eight of his first 10 outings with the Dodgers and A's, and 10 home runs.
And those totals went up, as he gave up a leadoff blast to Ryon Healy, extending the Seattle lead to 3-1.
The loss dropped the Rays back under .500 at 28-29.
The Rays wrap up the series with the Mariners, and the west coast portion of their schedule, on Sunday afternoon with Seattle-area native Blake Snell opposing Seattle-area legend Felix Hernandez.
Marc Topkin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @TBTimes_Rays