MINNEAPOLIS -- Tampa Bay right-hander Chris Archer continued his dominance at Target Field, as he stymied a hot Minnesota lineup in the 5-2 victory on Friday. The loss snapped the first-place Twins' four-game winning streak.
Archer recorded a strikeout in all but one inning, notching a total of 11 punchouts. He has now whiffed double-digit batters in four of his last five starts. After scoring 28 runs over its last four games, Minnesota only managed a pair of runs -- on RBI singles by Kennys Vargas and Brian Dozier -- against Archer. He is now 4-0 with a 1.38 ERA in four career starts at Target Field.
"Since Spring Training I've felt really good," Archer said. "Tonight I had three pitches going and the defense picked me up, saved my pitch count a little bit."
The Rays offensive attack supported Archer's gem with a trio of blasts. Logan Morrison and Kevin Kiermaier each hit two-run homers in the fourth and sixth, respectively. All but one of the four runs were charged to Twins' lefty Hector Santiago, who suffered his third loss of the season. Santiago switched to throw out of a stretch this time around and allowed four hits over 5 1/3 innings, in which he struck out six batters and walked two.
"It felt good, the command was there," Santiago said. "I can do a few different things out of the stretch. The first guy of the game, you have a quick pitch, a slide step. You can do all kinds of different things."
After diving several feet in front of a single in the seventh, much to his own amusement, Steven Souza Jr. redeemed himself with a solo shot off Matt Belisle in the eighth inning.
According to Statcast™, the ball traveled an estimated 435 feet with an exit velocity of 103.3 mph. The projected 435 feet marks the fourth longest homer hit by the Rays this season.
"Going up to the plate he made a comment, 'I'd better do something here,'" Rays manager Kevin Cash said with a laugh.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Playing a hunch: Cash kept three left-handed hitters in his starting lineup because lefties came into the game hitting .500 (13-for-26) with three home runs this season against Santiago. The decision paid off in the fourth inning when Morrison launched a two-run homer to put the Rays on top 2-0. Morrison tattooed a full-count fastball deep into the right-field seats. According to Statcast™, the ball traveled an estimated 390 feet with an exit velocity of 103.8 mph. The previous three homers Santiago served up to lefties all traveled at least a projected 393 feet.
Tampa Bay's three left-handed hitters in the lineup -- Morrison, Kiermaier, and Corey Dickerson -- combined to go 3-for-6 with two walks against Santiago.
Sano struggling: The Twins chased Archer in the eighth inning, ending his bid for a fourth career complete game. Eddie Rosario doubled off the wall to open the inning, and Dozier followed with a RBI base knock after consecutive strikeouts. Following a two-out walk to bring the tying run to the plate, the Rays called on reliever Alex Colome. The righty answered the bell by striking out Miguel Sano on four pitches. Sano finished the night with four strikeouts in as many trips to the plate. He has whiffed in his last seven at-bats.
"Right now, for whatever reason, he's pulling off those sliders a little more than what we had seen earlier," Minnesota manager Paul Molitor said. "Everyone goes through those stretches, where success becomes a little bit harder to achieve." More >>
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Santiago moved to the stretch in order to help him get ahead of hitters and it worked. He threw a first-pitch strike to 17 of the 21 batters he faced or 81 percent. Dating back to 2015, his previous first-pitch strike percentage in a game was 78.6 percent.
WHAT'S NEXT Rays: Right-hander Jake Odorizzi (3-2, 3.14 ERA) is coming off an eight-strikeout performance in a no-decision against the Angels. He has made quality starts in his last two outings at Target Field, and gets the nod today at 2:10 p.m. ET.
Twins: Left-hander Adalberto Mejia (1-1, 4.96 ERA) is expect to start for Minnesota on Saturday at 1:10 p.m. CT. Mejia earned his first Major League victory last time out, as he held the Royals to three runs over seven innings during Sunday's doubleheader.