First-inning woes continue for Archer in loss

First-inning woes continue for Archer in loss

CLEVELAND -- Chris Archer's first-inning blues are well documented.

Talk of his troubles out of the gate is beginning to sound like a broken record, but the problem won't go away. It reared its ugly head again on Thursday night in the Rays' 6-1 loss to the Indians at Progressive Field.

Archer allowed three runs on two hits -- one of them a Jason Kipnis homer -- and two walks in the first, moving his first-inning ERA to 10.69 for the season.

Kipnis' two-run homer

"We've got to start adjusting off that a little bit because we're putting ourselves in a little bit of a hole," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "The way we're playing as a team right now, it's tough to come back from. There's no doubt about it. Especially the caliber of teams the Indians are and where we're going to in Baltimore."

The sum of Archer's season-long first-inning troubles looks like this: 16 innings, 19 runs, 24 hits and 16 walks.

"The overarching recurrence is that first inning," Archer said. "And, you know, not just one run. One run is whatever, it happens. But multiple runs and putting the team behind the eight ball is frustrating."

In 34 first innings in 2015, Archer allowed just 13 earned runs for a 3.44 ERA. What has been the difference?

"I don't think it's a mystery at all," Cash said. "We kind of see what's taking place. You're falling behind and facing big league hitters, and they take advantage of when they have the count in their favor. They're not missing very hittable pitches."

Archer did manage to hold the Indians to just one more run in his final five innings, but he still came away with the loss, moving to 4-10 in 2016.

Ramirez's RBI single

Since the beginning of the second half of last season, Archer is 7-17 with a 4.29 ERA in 31 starts. In the first half of 2015, Archer was 9-6 with a 2.74 ERA in 19 starts.

Obviously, much of the way Archer is trending can be traced to his first-inning woes.

"Something that I definitely need to get better at because outside of the first inning, I threw the ball well today and did everything I could, but the guy that was on the mound tonight was really good," Archer said. "Next time, hopefully, get a better result. But still going to pitch with the same intention, but hopefully get a better result in the first inning."

Getting better results might include some tinkering on Archer's part.

"It's tough because for roughly four years, my Major League career, I've had the same routine," Archer said. "Maybe I should change something up. I'll look into it. But again, I think it boils down to, at least tonight, being aggressive. I didn't execute a pitch to Kipnis. But you're going to give up some homers here or there. But two walks [in the first] really hurt me."

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for since 2005. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.