Archer fans 11, delivers quality start in victory

Archer fans 11, delivers quality start in victory

DENVER -- Coming into Wednesday's start, Rays right-hander Chris Archer aimed to throw 70 percent strikes, a mark he has yet to eclipse this season. Although he fell just short of his goal, he put together his first quality start in over a month in a 11-3 win over the Rockies.

Archer tossed six brilliant innings, limiting the Rockies to two runs on four hits with two walks and 11 strikeouts. He struck out his last five batters and eight of his last 11.

This was a marked improvement compared to recent starts, in which he had given up at least four runs in four of his last five starts. His last quality start came on June 17.

"We get to see Arch quite a bit, and the stuff looked the same," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "You see him in the zone, and he's a really special pitcher."

Archer threw 63.8 percent of his pitches for strikes (67 of 105), but he was still happy with his results.

"You set your standard really high," Archer said. "You shoot for the moon, and if you come up a little short, you're still amongst the stars."

In the first two innings, Archer ran into trouble when he threw 27 of 49 pitches for strikes. He fell behind early in counts, throwing first-pitch strikes to only four of the 11 batters, which allowed the Rockies to put runners on and make hard contact.

However, from the third inning on, Archer faced two batters over the minimum and threw first-pitch strikes to 10 of his final 14 hitters. He allowed two singles in the fifth but quashed the rally by punching out Nolan Arenado and Carlos Gonzalez.

Archer said he found success by not focusing too much on exactly how many strikes and first-pitch strikes he had already thrown, instead staying present and pounding the zone.

"Honestly, I'm trying to throw a strike on probably 90 percent of my pitches," Archer said. "There are times when I'm trying to deliberately throw a slider under the zone or a fastball in, out, up, down, whatever. Strike one with nobody on base, you're usually trying to be over the plate, and it's a goal, but I'm not conscious of that too much."

Despite shaky showings lately, Archer feels good. As illustrated by his Wednesday's start, his strikeouts are up, his walks are down, and he's been much better since he carried a 7.32 ERA after his first four starts.

"I don't judge myself off the end result," Archer said. "There's times where you can go out and give up four or five runs and win, and there's times where you can give up one or two and get a loss. Those things, I don't even think about. That's for other people to think about. I just think about it one pitch at a time, and it worked out for us today."

Ben Weinrib is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.