Chris Archer failed to throw more than five innings for the third straight start, Joel Peralta had a bad outing, and the offense failed to get a big hit with runners in scoring position in the Rays latest loss. Let's hit those topics one by one.
Archer only walked one batter, which is an improvement over the five free passes he allowed in his last start. However, it seemed the overuse of his slider doomed him this evening. He threw 46 of them -- by far his most of the season -- and even though he registered 11 whiffs the pitch wasn't as effective as it needed to be. Take the at bat against Steve Pearce as a prime example. Six of the eight pitches he threw in that AB were sliders, yet they lacked consistency and Pearce was able to drive one that caught a little too much plate over the left field wall.
He loaded the bases in the fourth and fifth innings with no outs and was able to escape allowing just a run each time. The two runs isn't bad, but the 21 and 24 pitches it took to do so knocked him out of the game. We've seen Archer put together all of the pieces for a couple of starts this season, and the Rays need him to find that again as they move on with a diminished rotation.
The game was lost in the eighth inning as Peralta was only able to record one out while allowing four of the five hitters he faced to reach base. The three earned runs charged to him ballooned his ERA to 5.54 in 13 innings. Velocity could be playing a key role in his struggles. Tonight the velocity was fine -- he averaged 90mph on the fastball which is right in line with the past three seasons -- but the pitches were left up in the zone and got hammered as a result. Entering the game, though, his velocity on the season was down on his fastball, curveball, and split-finger. It's still early in the season and some pitchers take time to get their arms ramped up, but it's something to keep track of as we move forward.
The lack of hits with runners in scoring position downed the Rays again, as it will any team. With the bases loaded and one out in the seventh they were able to come away with just a sac fly, albeit one that tied the game. The same situation arose in the ninth inning but Desmond Jennings and Logan Forsythe failed to connect.
Forsythe's at bat was especially interesting. As Keith Law tweeted, the carrying of a 12th pitcher took away the Rays' ability to send up a left-handed pinch hitter for Forsythe in the ninth. However, way the bullpen has been overused lately it's totally defensible.