Archer became the first Rays pitcher to strike out at least 12 in back to back starts, also becoming one of just two hurlers to record such a feat since 1914 (the other was Dwight Gooden in 1984). The righty posited eight strong innings, allowing just one run on six hits. In his last two starts, Archer has allowed one run on eight hits in 16 innings, and has struck out 27 while not walking a batter.
For Archer, it was all about fastball command and sequencing:
It all stems from fastball command. They take bad swings at the slider because you’re in the zone with the heater so much. And then, when they’re thinking slider, you can go heater. I just felt like the past 10 days the command of the fastball has been significantly better than 10-15 days prior.
My favorite sequence came in the seventh inning with former Ray Matt Joyce at the plate. Archer, who began mixing in his change-up a few batters ahead of Joyce, started the at-bat with a pair of well located change-ups (84 mph and 86 mph, respectively) for strikes one and two. He came back with a 97 mph fastball that was well above the zone. The ball was in Rene Rivera’s glove before Joyce even took the bat off his shoulder, yet he still offered an ugly, awkward swing for strike three.
So Chris Archer’s slider is BY FAR the best pitch in baseball…90-92 with curveball action!! Get outta here @ChrisArcher42
— David Price (@DAVIDprice14) May 30, 2015
Previous to the game, David Price’s tweet (above) generated some discussion as to whether Archer’s slider, indeed, is the best pitch in baseball. Yet when you consider that 11 of his 15 strikeouts came via the slider, and that it generated whiffs 34% of the time, there really doesn’t see to be much left to debate.
As Erik Hahmann (DRaysBay) pointed out:
Archer is now tied for second in fWAR among pitchers at 2.4, just a hair behind Max Scherzer’s 2.7. He has the highest K% (32.7) in baseball and the seventh-lowest ERA (2.01). I know Dallas Keuchel and Sonny Gray have lower ERA’s, but not by much.
Offensively speaking, Tampa Bay took a 2-0 lead four batters into the game against CJ Wilson. Joey Butler hit a one out single to center and two batters later Logan Forsythe hit a towering homer just beyond the left-field foul pole. For Forysthe, it was his sixth homer of the season, tying his career high. However, Wilson found his rhythm and retired 12 consecutive batters before he began to unravel in the fifth, and completely lose his command in the sixth.
Albert Pujols, now tied with Jimmy Foxx for 17th on the all-time list, brought the Angels within a run after he hit a 1-1 slider into the left-field bullpen. It was Anaheim’s 14th homer in the past six games, and the sixth for Pujols during that stretch.
But the Rays were not done; the team gave Archer some cushion with a three-run rally in the sixth. Brandon Guyer led things off by getting hit by a pitch to start the frame. After a pair of quick outs, Forsythe and Steven Souza Jr. walked to load the bases. It was now up to Jake Elmore, and he did not disappoint. The utility fielder blooped a two RBI single to right, just out of the reach of a diving Kole Calhoun. Asdrubal Cabrera was next, singling in another run to right to cap the frame.
Tampa Bay tacked one last insurance run in the ninth, against lefty Cesar Ramos, when Rene Rivera singled home Cabrera, who reached on a base hit and moved to second on a steal.
*James Shields initially set the record on October 2, 2012 in his swan song outing against the Orioles.
The New What Next
Nathan Karns (3-2, 3.32 ERA) will make his 11th start of the season opposite of Hector Santiago (4-3, 2.18 ERA) on Wednesday. Over Karns’ last six starts, the righty is 2-1 with a 1.89 ERA. He is 1-0 with a 1.02 ERA in three road starts this season. Santiago boasts the lowest ERA in the Angels’ rotation. The 27-year-old LHP pitched 7-1/3 scoreless innings against the Tigers on Friday. You can read about the pitching matchup in our series preview.
Rays 6/3/15 Starting Lineup
— Angels catcher Chris Ianetta on Archer:
— This is pretty great as well:
— Steve Kinsella (@Steve_Kinsella1) June 3, 2015
— Chris Archer’s 97 strikeouts lead Major League Baseball. Of those, 67 have come on the slider (59 swinging, 8 called) — the most in the majors.
— Matt Moore pitched in a Stone Crabs uniform today for the first time since 2010. Then at 20, he went 6-11 with a 3.36 ERA and 208 strikeouts in 144-2/3 IP.
Moore slashed 2.1 IP/2 H/2 R/0 ER/3 BB/2 K on 52 pitches (31 strikes, 60% K%), while averaging 89-91 mph on his fastball (hitting 92 in the 2nd inning).