Had you asked Joe Maddon or Jim Hickey what they hoped for out of Wednesday night’s game, they would have said a win, and the opportunity to allow the tired relievers some rest following Tuesday night’s 14-inning marathon. Two pitchers, 13 strikeouts, and two hours and 51 minutes later, the Rays not only met Maddon and Hickey’s expectations, they exceeded them. Tampa Bay put together a 10-1 shellacking of the Rangers, thanks to a masterful seven IP start by Chris Archer, and a 12 hit/10 run offensive charge (which included three early home runs) led by Matt Joyce, Sean Rodriguez, and Brandon Guyer.
With an early one-run lead in the first inning, Archer got off to a rocky start by walking two batters. From there, however, he had his way with the Rangers’ swing happy lineup en route to his eighth victory.
His most effective pitch by far was the slider. Per Brooks Baseball, Archer threw it 29 times (19 for strikes), while coaxing eight of his twelve strikeouts (all swinging) on the pitch. His four other strikeouts (swinging as well) came on his fastball at the top of the zone. With the ability to move the ball around the zone on this fair eve, it’s easy to see why Archer was so dominant.
Granted he had to deal with a man in scoring position in three different innings, he allowed only one run to cross the plate via a fifth inning Aducci sac-fly. His ERA, over the past month, sits at a paltry 2.60 and he’s averaged one strikeout per inning. When comparing Archer and former ace David Price in their second full year in the bigs, it’s striking how similar they are number wise — 3.24 ERA (Archer) vs. 3.49 ERA (Price), 8.40 K/9 (Archer) vs. 8.75 (Price), 3.04 FIP (Archer) vs. 3.32 FIP (Price), 3.36 BB9 (Archer) vs. 2.53 BB9 (Price).
The recently recalled Brandon Gomes followed with a pair of perfect innings to round out the eighth and ninth innings, inducing a swing and miss strikeout of his own.
On the offensive end of things, Matt Joyce put the Rays on the board with a two-out home run to deep right field in the first inning. Sean Rodriguez and Brandon Guyer added a pair of two-run homers in the second, and both James Loney and Ben Zobrist atoned for their combined 0-11 night Tuesday, by going 4-6 with three runs batted in and a run.
Interestingly enough, it’s almost as if the Rays and Rangers were polar opposites last night. While everyone in the Rangers starting lineup struck out at least once, everyone in the Rays lineup — with the exception of Kevin Kiermaier — got at least a hit. Even then, Kiermaier reached base safely on a seventh inning walk.
The New What Next
The Rays will dodge a bullet in the series finale tonight. Jake Odorizzi will take the mound against Robbie Ross, not ace Yu Darvish. Ross (2-4, 5.61 ERA) will take the place of Darvish who was placed on the DL for the second time this season. Ross has spent most of his time in the pen this season. Though he’s had some success as a reliever, that success hasn’t translated well in the longer outings for the 25 year-old LHP. You can read more about Odorizzi in our series preview.
Rays 8/14/14 Starting Lineup
- Per Elias, the Rays pitchers 78 strikeouts match the 2013 Tigers for the most by an MLB team over a six-game span since 1900. Additionally, Tampa Bay leads the majors with a 2.14 ERA since the All-Star Break.
- Since June 11, the Rays have a .267 batting average — the fourth best in majors. They also have a .339 OBP, good for second best in the majors.
- on the subject of Matt Joyce’s future with the Rays, Erik Hahmann made an excellent point in his game recap for DRaysBay,
Let’s talk about Joyce. Yes, you have to platoon him against most left handed pitchers, but Joyce’s .374 on-base-percentage ranks seventh in the American League. His power isn’t where you’d prefer it, but he’s been an excellent player for four out of five months of the season. It would make sense to trade him fairly soon, with David DeJesus signed for two more seasons, Wil Myers needing to play every day, and Kevin Kiermaier getting paid substantially less. If so, some team is going to be very pleased next season.