Archer, Rays pick up series victory over Blue Jays
By Bill Chastain and Jamie Ross
TORONTO -- Rays starter Chris Archer pitched seven shutout innings and the Tampa Bay offense did the rest in a 4-2 series-clinching victory over the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre on Thursday.
The right-hander two-hit the Blue Jays and struck out 11 to improve to 2-1 on the season. He's given up only six earned runs in 36 1/3 career innings in Toronto, lowering his ERA here over six starts to 1.49.
Archer's performance on the mound was supported by single Rays runs in the third and fifth innings before Tim Beckham -- who was robbed of a homer by Kevin Pillar a night earlier -- provided a pinch-hit, two-run home run off reliever Aaron Loup to double the Tampa Bay lead to 4-0 in the top of the sixth. More >
The Blue Jays showed some life in the eighth with Rays reliever Steve Geltz in the game to start the inning.
Reyes injured, leaves game early: Jose Reyes left the game in the first inning after he experienced pain in his left rib area following a groundout to lead off the game. Reyes initially felt pain in the area when he checked a swing in the first inning against Baltimore last week, and appeared to have further aggravated the injury. He was replaced by the freshly-recalled Goins at shortstop in the bottom of the first. More >
Hit by pitch: Four players were hit by pitches in the contest. Archer plunked Russell Martin in the second and Encarnacion in the seventh before Donaldson took one off the hands from Geltz in the eighth. Evan Longoria wore one from Blue Jays reliever Marco Estrada, also in the eighth. That one prompted a shouting match between Archer and Blue Jays starter Mark Buehrle. More >
Archer dominant: The young righty made his third start of the season and once again came away with a dominant performance. Archer held the Blue Jays scoreless through seven innings on two hits while striking out 11. His biggest challenge came in his final inning when he hit Encarnacion to start the inning and one out later walked Martin. But he recovered to strike out Dalton Pompey and Pillar to end the threat. Archer might have gone another inning had his pitch count not reached 109.
"[Archer] just kept pounding the zone," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "Tonight he had both sliders working really well. The put away one and the one that he can kind of drop in when he's behind in the count.
"When he's got that pitch going where he can throw the breaking ball behind in the count to pick up strikes, he's going to be very tough."
Sanchez shows slight progress:Aaron Sanchez showed small signs of progress Thursday in his second career start. The 22-year-old left the game with the Blue Jays down 2-0 in the sixth inning. He'd struggled with fastball command in his last start against the Orioles, and was shelled for three earned runs -- and two homers -- over 3 1/3 innings. Thursday, he at least kept the ball in the park, but walked three and was saddled with three more earned runs in the Blue Jays' loss.
"I couldn't care less what that guy does." -- Donaldson, on Archer's outburst on the dugout steps after Longoria was hit by Estrada in the eighth inning
"I don't have anything to say about that. It's baseball." -- Archer, when asked about the events that followed the HBP's.More >
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Longoria led off the sixth with a double to right-center. Longoria already holds most of the Rays' offensive records, but chalk up another one as this particular two-bagger gave him 230 career doubles. That moved him past Ben Zobrist for first place on the Rays' all-time doubles list.
The Blue Jays' offense has been, for the most part, all or nothing this season. They've put up at least six runs -- and as many as 12 -- in their five wins, but in their five losses, they've been limited to a combined eight runs. They're 0-5 when scoring three runs or less, and 5-0 when scoring six or more.
Cash got the boot after Donaldson was awarded first base when he was hit in the hands by a Geltz splitter in the bottom of the eighth with two runners on and nobody out. The umpires went to the video review to verify that Donaldson had indeed been hit by the pitch. After it was confirmed, a visibly angry Cash rushed the field and was promptly ejected by home-plate umpire Laz Diaz. More >
Rays: Tampa returns to Tropicana Field to begin a nine-game homestand against the Yankees on Friday night at 7:10 p.m. ET. Nathan Karns will make his third start of the season, hoping to build on the quality start Sunday at Miami when he allowed one earned run on two hits in seven innings to get his first win of the season.
Blue Jays:Drew Hutchison will get the start as the Blue Jays open a three-game series against the Braves at Rogers Centre on Friday at 7:07 p.m. ET. The 24-year-old is 1-0 through two starts, pitching a solid six innings to earn the win over the Yankees on Opening Day before lasting only four in a no-decision vs. the Orioles his last time out.