Chris Archer put together the longest perfect game* in Tampa Bay Rays history on Wednesday, after he retired the first 19 batters. However, a couple of seventh inning gaffes allowed Justin Verlander and the Detroit Tigers to salvage the final game of the series, 2-1. The Rays finished their six game home-stand with a 3-3 record, falling to 51-52 on the season.
Archer was dominant over the first six innings. The Rays ace fanned 10, while retiring 18 hitters on just 69 pitches. His plus slider was alive, and he used it to wipe out Detroit’s powerful (albeit jumpy) hitters. Archer got a little help from Asdrubal Cabrera in the fourth inning, and Kevin Kiermaier in the sixth — both of whom made tremendous defensive plays to take potential hits away from the Tigers.
Ian Kinsler hit a sharp ground ball to Cabrera, who made an excellent diving stop and was able to fire off a throw to James Loney at first. The throw, while not perfect, was close enough for Loney to scoop out of the dirt.
— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) July 29, 2015
In the sixth inning, James McCann hit a long fly-ball to the wall in center field. Ranging all the way back, The Outlaw made an incredible jumping, stretching play on the would be hit — robbing McCann of extra bases.
An offensive note before we continue… Asdrubal Cabrera broke up a Justin Verlander’s perfect game in the fifth inning with a solo shot to left. Cabrera ripped an 0-1 change-up into the right field seats to give the Rays a 1-0 lead (their only run of the game), ending a string of 14 consecutive retired batters.
Archer’s perfecto came crashing to an end in the seventh. With one out, Jose Iglesias reached on a base hit that was grounded slowly toward the left side of the infield. Cabrera fielded the play deep from his position, but Iglesias placed the hit in the perfect spot and Cabby couldn’t get his corresponding throw to Loney in time. Yoenis Cespedes followed a seven-pitch battle by grounding a tailor made double play ball toward short. Yet Cabrera bobbled the ball, and couldn’t make a throw to second to get the lead runner, much less Cespedes at first. His third error of the season came at the most inopportune time.
Archer was able to coax a fly-ball out of Victor Martinez, but JD Martinez hit a grounder into left, subsequently scoring Iglesias, who never should have been at second in the first place. Nick Castellanos then lined to short, yet the ball bounced off the glove of a leaping Cabrera for another RBI base hit, giving Detroit the one run advantage they held onto until the end.
Asdrubal Cabrera addressed the error and the impact it had on things after the game:
The botched double play not only gave the Tigers the lead, it knocked Archer out of the game. While he could have put together a complete game shutout, Archer was pulled after throwing 101 pitches, requiring the bullpen to cover the two inning span.
The Rays had their own Castellanos moment, in the bottom of the seventh, yet they weren’t nearly as lucky as Detroit. Souza led off the frame with a hard hit liner to right to Cespedes in left. However, the ball bounced off his glove and fell into play. Under the assumption the play would go for an out, Souza exited the batter’s box slowly — costing Souza extra bases, as he was held to a single instead of a reaching on double. A few minutes later, he was caught trying to swipe second with Evan Longoria at the plate. Longo followed with a soft ground ball out to short for the second out of the inning.
Still, Tampa Bay had and out to play with.
Loney and Logan Forsythe lined back-to-back singles, and Kevin Cash pinched the speedy Tim Beckham for the less than fleet of foot Loney. Cabrera stepped into the box with runners on first and second, and the opportunity to redeem himself for the error at the top of the inning. Yet Verlander struck out Cabrera on a middle-middle curveball to end the threat.
Verlander, who allowed just a run on four scattered hits over eight innings, came took the mound in the eighth and fanned the side.
As for the tandem of Archer and Verlander, they accomplished something that doesn’t happen often:
Chris Archer and Justin Verlander: 3rd pair of opposing pitchers in last 10 years to both have 10+ K, 0 BB in the same game
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) July 29, 2015
Steve Geltz replaced Archer in the eighth, Brad Boxberger pitched the ninth, and the Rays had the top of the order up for the final frame. Brad Ausmus pulled Verlander in favor of closer Joakim Soria in the ninth. Soria put down the first two batters (Brandon Guyer pop out, Souza Jr. strikeout) bringing Longoria to the plate. Longo was hit by a pitch on the forearm, giving the Rays one last shot. Beckham stepped to the plate and took an outside pitch for ball one. On the next pitch, a fastball up in the zone, he swung for the fences for strike one. Tim laid off strike two, which coincidentally happened to be in the exact same spot as ball one. The mighty Beckham went down swinging at a curveball in the same location, ending the game. Roger Mooney (Tampa Tribune) put it best, tweeting:
*The longest no hitter since Matt Garza’s no-no on July 26, 2010
After an off-day on Thursday, the Tampa Bay Rays will start a three-game set against the Red Sox at Fenway. To their credit, they were able to take the series from the Tigers — something they will need to continue to do with consistency if they hope to remain in contention. Now if they could throttle the woeful Red Sox, that would definitely take the sour taste left in the mouth by Wednesday’s series finale.
— Bobby Wilson was added to the 40-man roster and called up to provide depth so Curt Casali could be used as the DH on Wednesday, although the stay is expected to be brief.
The Rays will likely call up the left handed bat of OF/DH Grady Sizemore to fill the roster spot left in the wake of David DeJesus.
Although with the potential of facing two left-handed starters this weekend in Boston, Cash could stick with this alignment for a few days — or call up Richie Shaffer, the right-handed power hitting prospect with 23 homers in the minors.
— Cash told Marc Topkin (Tampa Bay Times) that he hadn’t heard anything about other possible trades before Friday’s 4 p.m. deadline.
— OF Desmond Jennings (knee) will start a 25-30 at-bat rehab assignment Friday with Triple-A Durham, aiming for a mid August return. LHP Drew Smyly (shoulder) is scheduled to make another rehab start (four innings/60 pitches) on Friday, likely with the Class-A Charlotte Stone Crabs, in Lakeland.