ST. PETERSBURG — RHP Chris Archer was relatively pleased with how he battled through six innings against the potent Blue Jays on Saturday, allowing just one hit, albeit a two-run home run.
But it was after that homer by Jose Bautista, just over the short fence in the leftfield corner in the third inning, that Archer showed a reason to feel good about his performance going forward as he retired the next 11 in his most impressive stretch of the season.
"After I gave up that homer, something inside of me just ignited," Archer said. "And I just said, you know what, I'm going to attack, I'm going to pound the zone. And I felt much more like myself."
That aggressive mind-set has been missing at times as Archer went winless in his first four starts, and with an ugly 7.32 ERA. In his past two, he is 1-0 and has allowed only two runs.
LINING UP: LF Desmond Jennings didn't have much of an explanation for his extended skid, which is now 0-for-20. "I don't know. It's called a slump. That's what I got for you." … In what may be related, Cash said he has to find ways to get more playing time for OF Brandon Guyer, who typically only starts against lefties. "He's swinging the bat well, he's getting on base and obviously that's what we need," Cash said. "He does a lot of things that help us. It always seems like he gives a good quality at-bat. It doesn't seem like he strikes out much. He doesn't give away too many at-bats. Obviously with his speed he can impact you on the bases." … Steven Souza Jr. hit fifth for the second straight game, and Cash is planning to make the promotion from seventh permanent, for now.
REHAB REPORT: RHP Brad Boxberger had another successful bullpen session, throwing 30 pitches and mixing fastballs and changeups, in his recovery from March 17 core muscle repair surgery. "Location was a little better and more consistent," he said.
Boxberger will throw one more bullpen then twice face hitters in batting practice before starting a rehab assignment of about half a dozen appearances that should have him back with the Rays by late May. "It's kind of like starting over (in spring training) but just at a quicker pace," he said.
RHPs Alex Cobb and Chase Whitley also threw bullpens in their recovery from Tommy John elbow surgery, eyeing late July returns. There is good word from Port Charlotte, where Tommy John-rehabbing RH reliever Neil Wagner is hitting 95 mph in extended spring training and former All-Star LHP Jonny Venters 92-94 mph.
GOOD CHECKUP: Noted surgeon and team medical director James Andrews, orthopedist Koco Eaton and physician Michael Reilly were honored by the Rays and the Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society for 20 years of service with plaques and a first pitch.
"I'm honored to be here, particularly to be the entertainment in throwing a baseball," Andrews said. "We've been through some great times here. We've been very fortunate to have great trainers and training staff, probably the best in baseball associated with the Rays through the years. So it's made our job much easier. They've had an unbelievable training staff, led of course by Ron Porterfield."
MISCELLANY: With his third strikeout Saturday, Archer broke the team record for April strikeouts of 41, shared by LHPs David Price (2014) and Drew Smyly (this year). … Guyer was hit by a pitch for the MLB-most sixth time and the 30th since the start of last season. … LHP Blake Snell's first outing back in Triple-A Durham didn't end well Friday, as he allowed one hit through five innings then three hits and two walks in a four-run sixth.