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Rays 5, Twins 2: Archer dazzles in opener

Chris Archer was electric while LoMo, KK, and Souza homered to lead the Rays to an opening victory in Minneapolis.

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Minnesota Twins Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

MINNEAPOLIS — On a gorgeous Friday evening in downtown Minneapolis, Chris Archer and the Rays improved to 20-7 over the AL Central-leading Twins at Target Field since it opened in 2010.

Strikeout Machine

Taking the hill for Tampa Bay was Chris Archer, who continued his dominance at Target Field. The 28-year old right-hander struck out 11 while giving up two runs and five hits in 7 23 innings.

Archer improved to 6-1 with a 1.84 ERA in seven career starts against the Twins. Among teams Archer (4-3) has faced at least five times, only the Houston Astros (1.68 ERA) have struggled more against him.

“First and foremost, Norris called a great game back there,” Archer said. “We talked about doing specific things prior to the game and it worked out really well. We played some great defense. Overall it was just a great day for the team.”

Minnesota got to Archer a little bit in the 6th and 7th, driving in a pair of runs while the right-hander began to lose control.

His slider was electric all night, forcing the Twins hitters to whiff much more than they pleased.

“His slider is his most devastating pitch in terms of swings and misses that you’ll see,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said before the game. “He can make it disappear both down and in to lefties and away from righties, and he’s not afraid to throw it behind in the count. He’s one of those guys it’s going to be tough to have a good at-bat against him every time.”

It was another dominant start by Archer, who has now reached double-digit strikeouts four times in his last five starts.

Morrison Kicks it Off

After retiring nine of his first ten batters - looking like the exact start Santiago wanted against the one of the AL’s most productive offenses - Corey Dickerson led off the top of the fourth with a single up the middle.

Then Logan Morrison stepped in.

On a 3-2 count, Santiago served up a 92MPH fastball on the high, inside corner to Morrison, who's been locked in as of late. LoMo got every piece of it, taking it on a rope to right field and over the head of Max Kepler for a two-run home run and a 2-0 Rays lead.

“He (Santiago) broke my bat in the first on a pretty good pitch to hit up in the zone, so I was selling to “up and in” the whole time and was able to lay off some pitches, work the count, and he eventually put on there and I was able to put the barrel on it.”

Morrison now leads the Rays in home runs with 13, moving him just one shy of his total from last season. He has hit .409 (9-for-22) with seven extra-base hits (2 doubles, 5 homers) in seven career games at Target Field.

KK’s Turn

A few innings later - on Pressly’s second pitch of relief duty - Kevin Kiermaier sent a laser into right field for his fourth home run of the season. Statcast measured the exit velocity at a blazing 107 MPH.

After a rough first month, he’s certainly turned it around at the plate. Tonight was The Outlaw’s sixth multiple-hit game in his last 14 games.

Juuuuust missed it

For reasons we will never know or understand, Steven Souza Jr. made a completely irrational dive on a ball he was never going to catch.

Hahaha! Kiermaier had a great laugh. It’s good to know they’re loose and having fun out there.

Souza Jr. had this to say about the diving effort following the game.


The following inning, the Twins decided to show Souza’s hilarious diving attempt as he walked up to the plate. Souza expressed his sense of humor, the fans gave him a standing ovation, then he destroyed a 90mph fastball into the second deck in left field.

“It definitely put a nail on a good night,” said Souza Jr., “That was an awesome night for all of us, especially for Arch and the way he went out throwing. That’s a good team over there and we did a really good job.”

Colome shuts em’ down

The rays closer - once again - was asked to get four outs tonight. Colome relieved Archer in the bottom of the eighth against none other than Miguel Sano (AKA Destroyer of Baseballs). With two runners on base, Colome won the battle with the slugger ending the Twins threat.

Archer offered words of praise for Colome after the game.

“It was huge. There is always a couple moments where it could go one way or another. I don’t like to give up the ball at any time in the game, but if I’m giving it to Alex Colome in that situation, I can rest well.”

Colome gave up a hit in the ninth, but that would be all the damage as the right-hander recorded his 13th save of the season.

“I just wanted to save the run for Archer. When they asked me if I’d be ready for the extra hitter I said yes. He’s (Sano) is a good hitter. I was just thinking about hitting my location. It was a great win.”

The save was his third four-plus out save of the season, and ninth of his career.

Other Highlights

The Rays outfield turned in another fantastic performance tonight. Here is Steven Souza Jr. taking away an extra-base hit from Kennys Vargas in the bottom of the second.

Of course, great catches always have to follow with a celebration dance.

One not so great defensive highlight was this attempt by Corey Dickerson in left field. Archer’s following reaction was priceless.


-Tampa Bay now owns a 20-7 (.741) record all-time at Target Field, their best record at any American League park

-Steven Souza Jr. homered for the third time in his last three games

-The Rays have hit 14 homers in their last five games at Target Field

-Rays pitchers have held opponents to nine-or-fewer hits in 16-straight games, the second-longest streak in team history (19 straight from April 21-May 10, 2015)

-Miguel Sano finished the night with four strikeouts in as many trips to the plate

-Tonight’s attendance was 20,949