Archer's early-season woes continue

Rays' ace takes fourth loss, hasn't won since Aug. 31

Archer's early-season woes continue

BOSTON -- Chris Archer remains a mystery.

The ace of the Rays' staff has been anything but that in 2016. In Wednesday night's 7-3 loss at Fenway Park, the Red Sox dished out more of the same treatment Archer has been receiving from opposing teams since the beginning of September.

Entering Wednesday night's start, Archer had not gone deeper than 5 1/3 innings in any of his three previous starts. Against the Red Sox, he lasted just 4 1/3 innings, allowing six runs on eight hits and three walks to move to 0-4 with a 7.32 ERA.

"I'm not happy by any means," Archer said, "but nobody said this game was going to be easy. I'm going to continue to work hard, get better every single day, and I really trust and believe that I'll get past this. It's a tough stretch. ... I'm going to continue to believe in myself and my teammates continue to believe in me. I'm going to be better."

Archer has not won a game since Aug. 31 at Baltimore. During that 10-game stretch, he is 0-7 with a 6.39 ERA.

"Never, it's as simple as that, never," said Archer when asked if he had ever experienced a streak like the one he is going through.

Rays manager Kevin Cash remains in Archer's corner despite his shaky beginning.

"You know what? [Archer] might just be in a little bit of a rut, and that's OK," said Cash. "Everybody goes through these ruts in their season, in their career, kind of like we're talking about some other guys.

"On the bench, not comparing him and Corey Kluber, a guy who's pretty good who got off to a rough start last year and ended up evening out pretty solid. So that's the expectation for Arch."

Archer seemed most frustrated about allowing the Red Sox to take a 3-0 lead in the first.

"Really, the first inning put the team behind the eight-ball," Archer said. "I didn't execute pitches very well and they made the most of it. After that, I threw the ball OK, not anything special. But putting the team down 3-0 with eight innings left is never a good position to be in."

On Tuesday, Archer told reporters that his slider -- a pitch some have called the best slider in baseball -- had been the culprit for most of the negative results. Not so much for lack of movement rather for finding the wrong spots in the strike zone.

On Wednesday night, David Ortiz clubbed a two-run double in the first off a 90-mph slider. However, the remaining four runs on Archer's line came via four-seam fastballs that resulted in an RBI single for Xander Bogaerts in the first, a two-run homer to Mookie Betts in the second and an RBI double to Ortiz in the fifth.

"To me, [Archer's problem] goes back to the fastball -- being able to show that he can throw that where he needs to throw it," Cash said. "Give hitters a thought on two different pitches to decipher from rather than one."

Archer is now 1-7 with a 5.52 ERA in 12 career starts against the Red Sox. Comparatively, he is 31-29 with a 3.21 ERA against all other opponents. Cash allowed that sometimes certain clubs can have a pitcher's number.

"I'm not saying the Red Sox do. ... I know the Red Sox have had some success," said Cash. "The Red Sox can give a lot of pitchers some problems."

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