With handle on command, Archer racks up K's

Righty ties Rays mark with 15 vs. Angels after fanning 12 in previous start

With handle on command, Archer racks up K's

ANAHEIM -- Chris Archer and strike three were synonymous Tuesday night in the Rays' 6-1 win over the Angels at Angel Stadium.

Archer tied James Shields for the club record with 15 strikeouts, picking up where he left off in his previous outing on Wednesday, when he struck out 12 against the Mariners.

"What a performance," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "Two really strong performances back to back. I don't know which one was more impressive. But we'll take them both. The electric stuff we talk about all the time -- commanding the fastball, working in some changeups, something he's really done the last two outings."

Shields, who now pitches for the Padres, established the record on Oct. 2, 2012, in a 1-0 loss to the Orioles.

"It all stems from fastball command," Archer said of his performance. "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."

Archer on his big night

Anybody watching could see that Archer was on his way toward a special outing. He struck out seven of the first 10 batters he faced and had accumulated 10 through five -- and he'd only thrown 65 pitches, 50 of which were strikes.

Mike Trout became Archer's final victim when he struck out for the second out of the eighth. Archer's final pitch and 105th of his eight-inning stint was to Albert Pujols, who flied to the wall in center to end the inning.

Archer allowed six hits and no walks to earn his sixth win of the season. Pujols accounted for the Angels' only run against Archer with a home run in the fourth.

The right-hander spread the credit for Tuesday night's performance.

"Our defense is great, so I'm not afraid to throw the ball over the plate," Archer said. "And then the game planning by [pitching coach Jim] Hickey and [bullpen coach] Stan Boroski is immaculate.

"You know, they tell you how to get people out in the zone and out of the zone. And you go out there and do it the first time through so you gain confidence. So you continue to stay within the game plan, attack, trust your defense. And the end result is a 'W.'"

Baseball-Reference.com lists only one other pitcher since 1914 to record 12-plus strikeouts with no walks in back-to-back starts: 19-year-old Dwight Gooden in September 1984.

Archer, who did not know that he had tied the franchise strikeout record until Evan Longoria told him after the eighth inning, downplayed the importance of strikeouts.

"Getting people out in the big leagues, whether it's a strikeout, a popup, ground ball, a missile to the shortstop, it all feels the same," Archer said. "I'm just happy I can go out there and give the team quality innings. Save our bullpen a little bit. Because the first two months of the season they've been used heavily."

Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.