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Rays 1, Yankees 5: Archer makes the sad kind of history

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Chris Archer ties franchise record for losses in a season.

Tampa Bay Rays v New York Yankees Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Masahiro Tanaka is fun to watch when he’s not pitching against your team. But today, Tanaka was locked in a pitcher’s duel against Chris Archer as the Rays presumptive ace tried to stave off tying Tanyon Strutze’s franchise record of 18 losses in a season. So this game? This game was not fun. Today’s 5-1 loss was death by a thousand paper cuts.

The Rays best chance to score early came in the first inning. With one out, Nick Franklin lifted a lob shot to right that landed well out of reach of an ill-advised dive from Rob Refsynder. Unfortunately for the Rays, the ball bounded into the stands, forcing Franklin to settle for a ground rule double. Evan Longoria followed with a fly out to left. Then, in a sign of things to come, Tanaka struck out Brad Miller to end the threat. The strikeout featured 1) great pitching from Tanaka, and 2) a wide zone from Tim Timmons, something both pitchers would take advantage of all day. With Miller up in the count 3-1, Tanaka threw a cutter in off the plate that Miller couldn’t do anything with and fouled off. Then on 3-2, Tanaka started a two-seamer in that swung back toward the plate for a called strike three.

The Yankees best early chance came in second inning, when Starlin Castro hit a lead off double to right, then moved to third on a ground out by Brian McCann. But with the infield in, Chris Archer was able to induce weak contact at a first-pitch slider from Refsnyder for a tapper back to the mound, holding the runner at third. He finished the inning by striking out Tyler Austin.

The Rays had another shot in the sixth, when Logan Forsythe got his first ever hit off Tanaka with a double off the wall to center. After a Franklin sacrifice bunt, Evan Longoria came to plate looking to drive in the game’s first run. Longo hit a line drive to right that may have been deep enough to score to Forsythe, but Frosty made a misstep and did not get back to the bag in time to tag up as the ball was caught, depriving him of even the opportunity to score. It was a costly mental mistake by Frosty, since if the ball does drop, he scores easily. Even if he tags up properly, I’m not sure if he does score on the play, as the ball was not hit overly deep and the throw was strong. But he simply has to tag up there to at least give himself the chance. The baseball gods would not bail out the Rays second baseman either, as Miller followed by grounding to first to end the inning.

The next scoring opportunity went to the Yankees in their half of the sixth, and this time, they cashed in. After a Brett Gardner single to center, Jacoby Ellsbury took a 94 mph 2-1 fastball out to right. Gary Sanchez quickly followed by smacking a 1-1 hanging slider out to center. 3-0 Yankees.

With one out in the eighth inning, I was cursing Kevin Cash for not pinch hitting for Bobby Wilson. I mean, why the heck is Wilson batting in the late innings of a game when we have three catchers and a deep(ish) bench? Bobby Wilson proceeded to shut me up by taking Tanaka out to left.

Tanaka then hit a loose thread on Logan Forsythe’s jersey (I’m not exaggerating), sending Frosty to first and bringing the tying run to the plate and bringing an abrupt hook for Tanaka. He would finish with seven and a third innings, giving up five hits, while striking out ten and walking none.

Adam Warren came on and got ahead of Nick Franklin 0-2 before hitting him on the foot with a slider, putting the tying run on base and bringing the go-ahead run to the plate. However, Longoria could not cash in on the scoring chance, instead grounding into a 6-4-3 double play.

Enny Romero came on for the eighth for the Rays, closing the book on Archer. Chris worked seven innings and was charged with three runs, gave up four hit (two homers), with six strikeouts and one walk. He threw a lot of first pitch strikes, especially early, at one point recording 17 of 18 first pitch strikes.

Now about that eighth. This was not one of Enny’s better performances. Brett Gardner greeted the lefty with a single to left, and Jacoby Ellsbury followed by bouncing a ground rule double off the foul pole in left. Next up was Gary Sanchez, and the Rays called for the intentional walk. Except they weren’t intentional enough. Sanchez reached out and smacked the Romero softball deep to center for a near home run. Mahtook made the catch on the warning track, scoring Gardner easily and moving Ellsbury to third. Gregorius followed with a much more normal sac fly to score Ellsbury, pushing the Yankee lead to 5-1.

In the ninth, Corey Dickerson managed a two-out single against reliever Richard Bleier. So of course Joe Girardi made a pitching change, since he’s been managing like every game is Game Seven of the World Freaking Series. He called for Tyler Clippard, who retired Steven Souza on one pitch to (mercifully) end the game.

Tune in tomorrow for game four of this series and see if the Rays can avoid the sweep! You might even see Alexei Ramirez play!