Rangers knock out Rays' Archer to win 4th straight
By Michael Kolligian and T.R. Sullivan
ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rangers, with an early knockout of Rays starter Chris Archer, ran their winning streak to four straight with a 5-4 victory on Thursday night at Tropicana Field.
Archer allowed five runs in 3 1/3 innings after giving up just seven earned runs in his first 38 1/3 innings this season. Rangers starter Nick Martinez couldn't get through five innings but was picked up by his bullpen with left-hander Alex Claudio leading the charge. Rangers rookie outfielder Delino DeShieldscontinues to contribute while filling in for Leonys Martin in center field. He walked three times, once with the bases loaded, stole three bases and scored two runs.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Odor prolongs rally despite K: With two on and two out in the second, Chris Archer struck out Rougned Odor on a 2-2 slider in the dirt. But the ball got away from catcher Bobby Wilson and Odor reached first to load the bases. Archer then walked Delino DeShields (hitting .160) and Shin-Soo Choo (.154) to force home two runs and Elvis Andrus singled to center to make it 4-0.
"How about that one," said Rangers manager Jeff Banister. "That's one where if you play hard, it adds up. We talked about [Archer] having a power slider that sometimes ends up in the dirt and gets away from the catcher. We wanted to be aware of that."
Archer exits early: After allowing a total of six walks in his first five starts of the season, Archer has now struggled with his control in two consecutive outings. Immediately following the wild pitch to Odor on what would have been an inning-ending strikeout in the decisive second, Archer issued back-to-back, bases-loaded walks to DeShields and Choo to plate the first two Rangers runs of the night. Archer, who threw 52 of his 92 pitches for strikes, would proceed to walk two more hitters before departing in the fourth, making it eight walks in his last 7 2/3 innings of work. More >
"I couldn't make pitches when I needed to, and I wasn't in the zone enough," said a frustrated Archer. "If you're not in the zone, it doesn't matter how good your stuff is. They'll lay off, run your pitch count up and that's what happened. I felt like my stuff was tremendous -- swing and miss -- but I'd rather have a little bit less stuff and be in the zone more because at least that would give me a chance to go deep in the game."
Claudio stops rally: The Rangers led 5-0 going into the fifth but the Rays rallied for three runs against Martinez. With two on and two out, Banister brought in Claudio to face James Loney. Claudio needed just one pitch as Loney grounded out to Odor to end the threat. Claudio also retired the order in the sixth and ended up getting his first Major League win. More >
"Everybody did a good job tonight," said Neftali Feliz, who notched his fourth save. "Everybody has been working hard, trying to get better. Everybody is feeling good tonight."
Ramirez provides relief: After struggling mightily in his first two appearances of the season (5 1/3 IP, 15 ER), Rays reliever Erasmo Ramirez has quietly put together an impressive body of work. With 3 2/3 scoreless innings of three-hit ball against the Rangers on Thursday, the 25-year-old right-hander has now surrendered just one earned run in his last 12 innings, allowing seven hits and one walk while striking out nine.
"Great for Erasmo. He keeps looking better and better so that's a good sign," said Rays manager Kevin Cash of his emerging reliever. "I keep talking about him and what he's done after his first two outings. It seems like as he's settled down, he's commanded the ball and he keeps pumping strikes. He's done a really nice job."
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Choo, after hitting .096 in April, has a seven-game hitting streak to begin May (8-for-30) and the Rangers are 4-0 since he moved into the leadoff spot. Despite his early struggles, he is still second on the Rangers with 12 RBIs.
WHAT'S NEXT Rangers: Right-hander Yovani Gallardo pitches for the Rangers at 6:10 p.m. (CT) Friday against the Rays at Tropicana Field. Gallardo has lost three straight starts with a 4.56 ERA and a .229 opposing batting average. He threw seven scoreless innings against the Rays last season in his only career start against them.
Rays: Nathan Karns (1-1, 4.05 ERA) will take the ball when the Rays resume their series with the Rangers at Tropicana Field at 7:10 p.m. ET. Karns has allowed two runs or fewer in four of his last five starts, and has compiled a 2.93 ERA in his last 27 2/3 innings of work. The 27-year-old right-hander will make his first career appearance against the Rangers.