For the third straight start Chris Archer went exactly seven innings, this time shutting down the Angels lineup in impressive fashion. The soon to be 25-year-old was great once again, holding Anaheim to just five hits (all singles) while allowing one run and no walks. In his last 21 innings he's allowed just four runs and two walks.
Lowering his ERA to 2.81 is great, but the most impressive aspect of his game has been the improved control. In his first four starts this season Archer walked 14 batters. In his last four he's walked just three. Yes, that's cherry picking but he's made great strides in this area. His BB/9 currently sits at 2.81. The lowest total he's ever posted is 3.59 in 52 innings of Rookie League in 2007. It's no secret that a pitcher who doesn't allow free baserunners is going to have success. With the caliber of stuff Archer has he should be a key piece of the Rays rotation going for years to come if he can continue keeping the walks down.
His most devastating pitch tonight, as usual, was his slider. He throws it 31% of the time, so it better be. Of the 28 sliders he threw 16 went for strikes with 7 generating a swing and a miss. In fact, all five of his strikeouts ended with the batter flailing helplessly at the slider. The only run he allowed came in the seventh inning. Mike Trout and Josh Hamilton each singled to start the inning and advanced a base on a Mark Trumbo ground out. Trout would score on a sacrifice fly from Kole Calhoun.
The Rays offense struck early, taking a 1-0 lead on a sacrifice fly from Matt Joyce in the first inning. They'd score three runs in the bizarre fourth inning. Yunel Escobar bunted runners to second and third with one out. David DeJesus then shot the ball up the middle, deflecting off the leg of the pitcher Garrett Richards and coming to rest by the third base line and allowing Desmond Jennings to score. Ben Zobrist followed that with a soft hit to centerfield, bring home Lobaton. Evan Longoria would then reach on a fielding error by Erick Aybar which allowed DeJesus to score. It that inning had happened against the Rays I'd have shut my TV off out of frustration. In the four games he's started for the Rays DeJesus has picked up seven hits, two of them being doubles. Zobrist, who came into tonight hitting .306/.369/.485 in the second half, picked up two hits and an RBI.
We're at the point where every game feels like it's a must win, especially after blowing a four run lead last night and the Red Sox winning tonight. Jake Odorizzi takes the mound tomorrow in the series' rubber game, making his first Major League start since June 18th.