Richie Shaffer became the seventh Rays rookie to hit his first major league home run this season. (Photo Credit: Tampa Bay Rays)
The marquee matchup between Chris Archer and Chris Sale did not live up to billing on Tuesday night, after the Tampa Bay Rays put together a five run sixth — after previously tagging the left handed hurler for three runs — and belted four homers to back Archer in a 11-3 victory. At 54-54 on the season, Tampa Bay is back to .500, and just two games out in the Wildcard race, after a third straight victory.

Source: FanGraphs

The Rays gave Archer to a 2-0 lead in the first inning. Brandon Guyer worked a leadoff walk, and after Sale retired the next two batters, Forsythe pummeled a 2-2 fastball into the left field seats for a two-run lead. It was Forsythe’s 13th homer of the season.

Chicago got back a run in the fourth against Archer, when Tyler Saladino hit a solo shot on a 98 mile per hour fastball into the left field seats — his third homer of the year. Meanwhile Sale was in a good rhythm after retiring 10-of-11. Yet that all changed when Mikie Mahtook stepped to the plate. Mahtook gave Tampa Bay a two-run lead once more when he homered to left-center on a 1-2, center cut fastball from. It was Mahtook’s third homer this year.

The Rays were not done, and in the next inning they exploded, banging out five more runs and never looking back.

Entering the sixth with a two-run lead, the Rays’ rally started with a Forsythe walk. Asdrubal Cabrera singled to right and Richie Shaffer walked to load the bases against Chicago’s All-Star hurler. Mikie Mahtook fanned, but Kevin Kiermaier followed with an RBI single to center. Sale, for some odd reason, did not back up the plate, and a second run scored when Adam Eaton’s throw went through the five hole of Tyler Flowers, and to the backstop. Ventura saw enough of Sale, and called upon the services of Daniel Webb, who inherited two runners.

Rene Rivera greeted Web with an RBI single for a five-run lead. Pinch-hitter Grady Sizemore drove in another run with an RBI fielder’s choice to second. The RBI was the 500th of Sizemore’s career. James Loney and Evan Longoria followed with back-to-back singles, with the latter scoring the final run of the frame. Tampa Bay sent 10 players to the plate in the inning.

The team tacked on two more runs in the seventh, when Cabrera and Shaffer hit back-to-back homers off Webb for a 10-1 advantage. For Shaffer, it was his first hit at the MLB level.

Webb left a thigh-high mid 90’s fastball over the outer third of the plate, and Shaffer responded with an opposite field backspin homer.

Pitch number six became a moment for Shaffer.
Pitch number six became a moment for Shaffer.
Shaffer became the eighth Ray to make his first Major League hit a home run — the third this year — joining Nathan Karns (7/21/15, vs. the Phillies) and Mikie Mahtook (4/15/15, vs. the Blue Jays). The others: Brandon Guyer (5/6/11, vs. the Orioles), Elijah Dukes (4/2/07, vs. the Yankees), Delmon Young (8/29/06, vs. the White Sox), Brent Abernathy (6/25/01, vs. the Red Sox) and Esteban Yan (6/4/00, vs. the Mets).

Once Shaffer reached the dugout, he received the silent treatment. Instead, Shaffer moved down the length of the dugout giving high-fives and hugs to his imaginary friends until he reached the spot where his teammates huddled in a circle.

It was awesome, Shaffer said after the game. I knew they were going to do something. So I go in there and no one’s looking at me or talking to me, so I gave some fake high-fives and handshakes to everyone. And they had their little ring going and I made my way down there and everyone was going nuts. It was an awesome experience. Everyone was having fun.

The Rays scored their final run in the ninth on a Kiermaier base hit. Kiermaier and Rivera each had three hits apiece.

The run support was more than enough for Archer, who posted seven innings of two run ball. The ace relied mostly on his plus fastball, working without his best slider but making effective use of it, scattering six hits while fanning seven and throwing 107 pitches. Alex Colome pitched a perfect eighth and Kirby Yates allowed a two-out homer to Avisail Garcia in the ninth.

The New What Next

Erasmo Ramirez (8-4, 3.61 ERA) will make his 17th start of the season, opposite of Carlos Rodon (4-4, 4.84 ERA). Ramirez earned a no-decision in a 7-5 loss against Boston on Friday. Three of the runs on his line were unearned due to a pair of first-inning errors. He has allowed one earned run or fewer in seven of his last eight starts. Rodon aims to rebound after allowing a career-high eight runs his last time on the mound, surrendering 19 combined runs in the month of July. You can read about the pitching matchup in our series preview.

Rays 8/5/15 Starting Lineup

Guyer RF
Butler LF
Longoria 3B
Forsythe 2B
Cabrera SS
Loney 1B
Shaffer DH
Kiermaier CF
Rivera C
Ramirez RHP


— Drew Smyly will make at least two more rehab starts, Thursday for Triple-A Durham then, likely, Tuesday. That lines him up for a return to the big league roster after August 16. Under the team’s current four-starter plan they need a fifth by August 18. Desmond Jennings went 1-for-3 and played the outfield for the Bulls in his fourth rehab game.

— Per Marc Topkin (Tampa Bay Times) the Rays have acquired OF Daniel Nava. Mikie Mahtook has been optioned to Durham to make room on the roster for Nava.

Nava, 32, is a switch hitter who plays mostly corner outfield and some first base. He was designated for assignment the Red Sox on July 30 after slashing .152 BA/.200 OBP/.182 SLG/.382 OPS in 78 plate appearances, while also dealing with njuries. He, however, is the owner of a career .267 BA/.357 OBP/.367 SLG/.724 OPS/.333 wOBA line, and defensive metrics thought he had improved significantly in his outfield defense.

Tampa Bay would be placing a good amount of trust in a turn-around from Nava, as the team will owe him the remaining balance of his contract, around $617K. He can also be controlled for two more years via arbitration, and probably wouldn’ be in line for a significant raise.

Ian Malinowski (DRaysBay) put the acquisition of Nava into perspective:

However, the player currently on the team to which Nava is most similar is left-handed outfielder and pinch hitter Grady Sizemore, who is also 32 years old. While Nava is a switch hitter in theory, he’s had dramatically better results from the left-hand side of the plate, facing right-handed pitching:

vs. LHP 348 PA, 59 wRC
vs. RHP 1179 PA, 120 wRC

He’s been 40% below average against lefties, and 20% above average against righties. That qualifies him for a very specific role.

Nava’s speed is likely declining as he ages, but according to UZR he’s been about an average corner outfielder defensively, and he’s also gotten some time at first base where he’s graded as above average.

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