Archer put together his best, most dominant outing of the season. The most trouble he got into came early in the first when he gave up a one-out double to Seth Smith that got between Logan Forsythe and first base. From there, however, Archer started to settle in, fanning Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz to end the rally and the inning. Archer embarked upon a stretch where he retired 12 consecutive batters and 23 of 24. His only other blemish on the day came in the fifth inning when the ace allowed a single to Logan Morrison. Archer struck out 12 and surrendered just two hits on 95 pitches.
The righty hoped for the opportunity to finish what he started, however, Rays manager Kevin Cash opted to pull the righty in favor of Brad Boxberger in the ninth. The decision proved costly. Boxberger struck out the first two hitters before walking Seth Smith and Robinson Cano on 3-2 pitches. Nelson Cruz stepped into the box and took a 1-0 pitch into the Ray Tank for the only runs of the game.
The question begs, why did Cash pull Archer at that point in the game?
At that time, Cash said in his post game presser, it makes the most sense to go to Box.
Cash sited a handful of reasons* for pulling Archer after eight innings: he was at 95 pitches. That he would have been pulled anyway before facing lefties Seth Smith and Robinson Cano, who were due up third and fourth, with a man on. That they didn’t want to extend him since he had worked only 5-1/3 innings (though threw 107 pitches) in his last outing. That they wanted Boxberger to start with a clean inning.
Yet Archer was coming off a shorter outing, and he has an extra day before his next start in Anaheim. Too, he dominated the Mariners, mixing in his change up to complement his mid-90’s fastball (repeatedly touching 97 mph) and his filthy slider.
Archer wanted to be the guy who went back out there and posted another goose egg on the scoreboard:
I always want to stay in the game, even last game when I didn’t have my best outing. If I haven’t thrown 120 pitches, I want to stay out there. Had a good talk with (pitching coach Jim) Hickey and Cash. The reasoning behind why I came out, and I understand, but I felt so good and pitches were relatively low. And I knew that Felix was going back out and I wanted to be the guy to put another zero on the board.
While Hernandez isn’t boast a shiny line, he was still effective. Seattle’s ace was a ground ball machine and needed just 100 pitches to put the Rays away. King Felix didn’t now throw more than 12 pitches in any of the first six innings, and was aided by four double plays (three inning ending double plays).
Tampa Bay mounted a threat in the second inning after David DeJesus reached on a single and a Nick Franklin walked, but Jake Elmore grounded hard into a 5-4-3 double play. Then in the third, Kevin Kiermaier bounced into a double play after a Rene Rivera base hit, and Nick Franklin followed a Logan Forsythe single in the fifth with a 4-6-3 double play.
In the sixth, the Rays staged their biggest threat. Brandon Guyer led off with an infield hit, and was bunted to second by Rivera. Tampa Bay got another base runner when The Outlaw was hit on the ankle by a pitch, yet Joey Butler hit a bullet off the mound but right to Robinson Cano, who turned it into, you guessed it, another double play.
Kiermaier told Rays Radio that he believes he’ll be okay after rest and treatment on the off-day Thursday:
Hernandez put down the last 10 Rays in order starting with the ill fated, Butler double play ball.
*Source: Marc Topkin (Tampa Bay Times)
— Despite the outcome, that was a hell of a pitching duel:
Felix Hernandez and Chris Archer became 5th opposing starter duo with 8 IP, 8 K, 0 R in Wild Card Era (since 1995) via @EliasSports
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 28, 2015
— The Rays were shutout for sixth time this season, which is most in the American League, and the 24th time since the start of 2014 season (second most in majors to San Diego).
— The St. Petersburg City Council will meet again Thursday to discuss the Tampa Bay Rays stadium saga. On the list of topics to be discussed is the possibility of tying the Tropicana Field property to the economically distressed poor neighborhoods to its south.
Similar to Ybor City’s designation as a Community Redevelopment Area (CRA), there is a potential to redraw the boundaries of St. Petersburg’s south-side CRA (bounded by Fourth Street to 49th Street and from Second Avenue N to 30th Avenue S), which does not currently include the baseball stadium and its parking lots.
In short, the benefits to the CRA could be huge, pumping millions in revenue into poor neighborhoods from rising property values in the region. If the Rays opted to stay at Tropicana Field (or, if a new facility was to be built on the property), they would likely need perhaps 15 to 20 acres, leaving the bulk of the property to be redeveloped. If they were to leave, all 85 acres would become available.
There are a few caveats. As Charlie Frago (Tampa Bay Times) noted,
City officials are hesitant to lock up what could be massive revenue generated by new construction on the Trop property into a specific area of the city. And requiring development in the CRA could also limit the pool of developers willing to take on both the Trop and the 7.5-square-mile area. Additionally, to redraw the CRA boundaries would require a study showing the Trop site to be blighted — a long shot. And the County Commission would be likely very reluctant to be on the hook for decades more of tax money on that property going to a specific area, city officials said.
Nevertheless the idea is intriguing, and it will be interesting to see what may transpire on Thursday.
— Rays INF Ryan Brett has been reinstated from the 15-day DL and optioned to Triple-A Durham Bulls.