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Rays vs. Blue Jays, game 19 recap: Archer leads Rays to series sweep over Jays

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Chris Archer's dominating, seven inning, seven strikeout, two hit afternoon, paired with Brandon Guyer's four RBIs powered the Rays to complete the series sweep of the Toronto Blue Jays at Tropicana Field.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Rays looked to continue their winning ways Sunday afternoon in a matinee affair with the Toronto Blue Jays. After taking the first two games against the Birds from North of the Border, the Rays, led by Chris Archer on the hill, looked to sweep the series and end their nine-game home stand on a high note.  They did just that, beating Toronto 5-1, completing the sweep and hitting the road on a winning note.

The Rays wasted no time getting the offense into gear against a familiar foe, left-hander Mark Buehrle. Buerhle, who's had the Rays' number through most of his career, left a 1-0 fastball over the middle of the plate to the leadoff hitter, Brandon Guyer, who blasted the second pitch of the inning to deep left center and just got it past the glove of Kevin Pillar and over the fence for his first homer of the season and a quick 1-0 Rays' lead. Evan Longoria hit a one-out single and was followed by Logan Forsythe, who hit a blooper of a fly-ball to right field. Thanks to a complete miscommunication between rookie second baseman Devon Travis and right fielder Michael Saunders, the ball dropped in, allowing Longoria to score from first and Forsythe to pull into second with a double.

Archer came out of the gates blazing, allowing only a single and a walk in the first inning, followed by retiring nine straight batters over the next three frames. His fastball was consistently in 95-98 MPH range, which set up his slider perfectly. That breaking pitch took Archer a couple of innings to find the release point he wanted, but once he did so, he was able to locate it extremely well, getting numerous whiffs down and outside. He came into the game on Sunday with a shiny 1.07 ERA and 30 strikeouts. By the end of the fifth inning, Archer had taken the American League lead in K's. By the time his day was over, he pitched seven innings, struck out seven, allowed only three baserunners, and dropped his ERA to a dazzling 0.84. By the way, he hasn't given up an earned run since Opening Day.

Buehrle looked decidedly un-Buehrle-ish, though the Blue Jays defense certainly wasn't doing him any favors. After the leadoff home run to Guyer and the misplays in the outfield that led to the Rays' second run, a Tim Beckham single and two consecutive infield miscues loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the fourth inning and the sixth inning. Guyer hit a sacrifice fly to left in the fourth to stretch the lead to three runs and then a two-RBI single in the sixth to make it 5-0. Buehrle's location wasn't horrible, but it definitely was not what we've been used to seeing out of the veteran lefty. He was excessively predictable, starting nearly every batter with a fastball inside. The Rays' aggressive at-bats helped keep his pitch count down, but it also kept the pressure on him all afternoon. He even took a line drive off of his leg in the fifth. After a two-out walk to Steven Souza Jr. in the sixth, Buehrle's day was done.

After Archer's exit, it was time for the bullpen to lock the game down for good. Matt Andriese, who picked up his first career save on Friday night, came on and quickly retired the Blue Jays in the eighth, allowing only a two out single to Ryan Goins. Andriese came back out for the ninth to try and preserve the shut out. Unfortunately, that wouldn't happen. Russel Martin, who reached on a tough hit to shortstop that caught Tim Beckham up high. Beckham was fine, if a bit shaken up. Martin moved up to second on the following ground out and took third unopposed as the Rays were shifted for the left-handed hitting Justin Smoak. Smoak shot a tough groundball past a diving Longoria to score Martin from third. With two outs, Michael Saunders hit a routine ground ball to Longoria at third, but his throw went wide of James Loney at first, pulling Loney off the bag and forcing Andriese to get an extra out. He did so in fine fashion, striking out Dalton Pompey to end the game.

My Two Cents:

  • The Blue Jays' outfield looked like they missed a couple hours of sleep last night, misplaying two fly balls in the first two innings.
  • They shouldn't feel too bad, though. The umps were half asleep as well, completely forgetting their assignments on the Longoria play at second. The right call was eventually made, but a good laugh at the umpires' expense is always welcome.
  • What a difference having the defense of James Loney at first makes.
  • Not only did Brandon Guyer hit his first home run of the season, but he also set a career high with four RBIs.
  • Is anyone else as excited as I am to see a Rays' top three pitching rotation of Cobb-Archer-Smyly at the end of next month?
  • Also, am I the only one who thinks Mark Buehrle looks like a member of Duck Dynasty?
  • Finally, it was Moffitt Day at Tropicana Field, with the Rays donating $5,000 to the Moffitt Cancer Center. We've all been impacted in some way by this terrible disease, and it's always great to see our local teams supporting one of the premier cancer research facilities right here in our backyard. Tip of the Cap to the Rays and Moffitt Cancer Center.