The Tampa Rays ended the first half of the 2013 season by defeating the Houston Astros by a final score of 5-0. The Rays close out the first half by winning 10 of their last 11 games, 14 of 16, and 17 of 21 to push their record to 55-41. The Astros finish their 3-city 8-game road with a record of 1-8 and they fall to 33-61.
As expected Astros starter Erik Bedard (3-6, 4.61 ERA) worked in and out of trouble delivering 5 innings allowing 3R/2ER on 8 hits striking out 6 and walking 2. He threw 109 pitches and 67 for strikes. He was relieved by Paul Clemens who gave up 2R/ER on 4 hits in 3 innings of work.
The story of the game was Chris Archer (4-3, 3.01 ERA) who pitched his first complete game shutout in his professional career. It was his first time in his professional career that he had worked more than 7 innings. He only allowed 5 hits, struck out 8, did not walk a batter, and had 10 ground balls accounting for 11 outs.
He was pitch efficient as well. Entering the game he had been among the AL leaders in pitches per inning (17.7) but only needed 112 (career high) to go the distance (12.45 P/inning). He only had two 3-ball counts on the day and had 17 swing and misses. It was his second consecutive start without issuing a walk after issuing 11 in his previous 11 ML starts.
He joins James Shields as the only Rays pitcher to throw a complete game shutout with at least 8 strikeouts and no walks. Shields pulled the feat 3 times (2x in 2012 and 1x in 2008).
Joe Maddon called Archer's start a growth game. "A mind once stretched out has a difficult time going back to it's original form. That's a situational moment as a baseball player where you stretch yourself to a complete game shutout as a young starter - that can really open a lot of doors moving forward."
Over his last 5 starts Archer has a 3-0 record with a 1.68 ERA (6ER/32IP) allowing 21 hits striking out 21 and walking just 7 and improves to 4-1 with a 2.30 ERA (11ER/43IP) at Tropicana Field.
The Rays offense provided Archer an early lead on a 2-out 2-run double by Evan Longoria in the 1st inning scoring Desmond Jennings from 1st base. The double by Longoria was his 341st extra-base which moved him into second place on the Rays all-time extra base hits leaders ahead of BJ Upton and second only to Carl Crawford (424).
The Rays extended their lead to 3-0 in the bottom of the 4th inning. Kelly Johnson singled to lead off the inning and came around to score after Erik Bedard fielded Jose Lobaton's bunt and threw wildly past Jose Altuve and down the right field line. Lobaton advanced to 2nd on the error, moved up on a single by Yunel Escobar, and came in to score on a double play ground out by Desmond Jennings.
Jennings factored into the scoring again in the bottom of the 6th. With Kelly Johnson at 1st and 2-outs in the inning he launched his 11th home run off Astros reliever Paul Clemens to give the Rays a 5-0 lead.
Yunel Escobar was originally charged an error on a J.D. Martinez ground ball in the top of the 2nd inning which would have ended a streak of 51 consecutive games without an error and falling a game short of the franchise record for errorless games by a shortstop held by Chris Gomez with 52 set in 2002. After the game the official scorer changed the ruling to a hit and now both Escobar and Gomes share the record with 52 straight games.