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Rays 10, Astros 4: Duff Man’s First Dinger

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Offense scores early, unloads late; Chris Archer weathers rocky fourth

Tampa Bay Rays v Houston Astros Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

After two tough losses, the Rays sent Chris Archer to the hill, looking to avoid the sweep against the Houston Astros. For his part, Archer hoped to keep from tying Tanyon Sturtze’s franchise record 18 losses.

Tampa Bay jumped on top in the second, after singles by Matt Duffy and Nick Franklin and a soft groundout by Steven Souza. They added another in the third on doubles by Corey Dickerson and Evan Longoria.

Things got interesting in the fourth. A two out wild pitch moved Souza to second. Tim Beckham followed with a chopper to third baseman Alex Bregman. The rookie whiffed on it, then collided with Souza as the ball rolled into left field. The third base umpire’s arm went up, and Souza kept on chugging around third towards home. The throw came to the plate and may (or may not) have beaten Souza, but it wouldn’t matter; he was ruled safe by interference.

Luke Maile followed by smacking a hanger into the left field corner to score TBex. 4-0, Rays. With Archer on cruise control, we were obviously gonna coast to a —

Hmm? Oh, there are nine innings? And it’s only the fourth, you say? Okay, fine, let’s see what else happened.

Archer had kept his pitch count in check to that point, giving up just a hit by pitch. But it came undone in the fourth. A walk to Bregman and a homer to Altuve put the Astros on the board. He gave up two more singles and a walk and yielded a third run, while throwing over thirty pitches in the frame. It looked for all the world like that one inning would wreck a wonderfully efficient outing. But hey, at least we still had a 4-3 lead. Though honestly, it didn’t feel like it at the time.

The Rays chased Doug Fister from the game in the fifth, when they put runners on first and second with one out on a walk by Dickerson and a single by Longoria. But Chris Devenski came on to put out the fire and strand the runners. Devenski also worked clean sixth before giving up a two-out hit in the seventh to Kevin Kiermaier. KK would swipe second, then be stranded after a long fly by Longo. Overall, Devenski looked very sharp in two-plus innings of work.

Archer got things back on track with a one-two-three fifth inning. Also significantly, the eleven pitch inning put him back on track to work deeper into the game. He plowed through the sixth, getting his seventh and eighth strikeouts (giving him 200 on the year) while giving up a single.

Then, at 98 pitches, he went back out for the seventh. A strikeout, a flyout, and another strikeout later, and Archer’s day was done: seven innings, four hits, three earned runs, ten strikeouts, two walk, one hit batsman. It was a gutty performance to not allow the one bad inning derail an otherwise stellar effort.

Michael Feliz came on for Houston for the eighth. Brad Miller greeted him with a single to left , and I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, hey, you know what would be nice? Some insurance. But Matt Duffy is up, and Matt Duffy only hits singles.

You were saying???

The Rays weren’t done in the eighth. Beckham and Maile scratched out infield singles, so with two outs, A.J. Hinch called on Tony Sipp to face Corey Dickerson. It was a smart move. Played the percentages, got the platoon advantage, just like your supposed to. But like they say, sometime you eat the bear, and sometimes the bear mashes your slider 430 feet into the right field seats.

9-3, Rays.

Steve Geltz came on for the Rays in the bottom of the eighth. And again, I know what you’re thinking. But look, here’s the thing: Steve actually looked okay. Yeah, he got touched for a run on three hits. Yeah, he threw a wild pitch. But he kept the ball in the yard. And he didn’t implode. And really, he did look better. So leave Steve alone.

Besides, Cranklin got that run right back in the top of the ninth, hitting a bomb to right off a change up from Brad Peacock.

10-4, good buddy.

Enny Romero came on to mop up. It wasn’t pretty. There was a walk. There was an error on Nick Franklin, when he just flat out whiffed on a throw from Beckham. But in the end, nobody scored, and the Rays head to Boston with a big win to avoid the sweep.

Notes:

In the aftermath of a dressing down brought on by bad baserunning, there was of course more bad baserunning, including a boneheaded trifecta in the fourth inning alone:

  • Souza’s adventurous trip around the bases in the fourth almost ended before it started when he was nearly doubled up on Bonehead Play #1. With Franklin on first, Jose Altuve played Souza’s humpback liner/short pop up on a hop when he saw Souza wasn’t running out of the box. Only a late burst from Souza allowed him to just beat out the return throw. Ugh.
  • Tim Beckham showed an extreme lack of hustle when scoring on the Maile double for Bonehead Play #2, and was very fortunate that the Rays catcher beat the throw from left field into second, as it’s unclear Beckham would have touched home first if Maile had been tagged out. SMDH
  • Maile committed the least dumb of the bonehead triplets when he got caught off second base on a nice block and recovery by Jason Castro of a short breaking ball. He was tagged out in a methodical rundown.