"Yeah, it feels a little weird, to kind of let up off the gas pedal," Matt Joyce said. "A little unfamiliar territory."
The Rays (59-61), who have posted a Major League-best mark of 17-8 since July 12, are 5-4 on the road trip that wraps up Thursday night before the team heads home to play a weekend series with the Yankees at Tropicana Field.
Joyce kick-started the Rays' homer parade with his eighth long ball of the season, a solo shot off Miles Mikolas in the first. Sean Rodriguez and Brandon Guyer added two-run homers in the second off Mikolas to push the Rays' lead to 5-0.
"It was nice to jump out front with the big hit like that," Joyce said. "The guys seemed to be aggressive. Aggressive with the ball in the zone and up in the zone and just really driving the ball. We had some big hits and some big home runs that added up to five runs early. And any time you can jump on a team early like that it's huge."
Archer started for the Rays and held the Rangers scoreless and without a hit or a run through four innings. At one point he struck out six in a row, leaving him one short of Andy Sonnanstine's club record for consecutive strikeouts.
"He was powering the ball," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "He was effectively wild. He was able to put his breaking ball over in some instances but he was just powering the ball. He was throwing it up there 95-97 miles per hour, not an easy pitch to get on."
Leonys Martin broke Archer's spell with a leadoff double in the fifth. Former Ray Robinson Chirinos followed with a single to put runners at first and third with no outs. Jim Adduci's sacrifice fly scored Martin, but Archer escaped further damage when Rougned Odor grounded into a 3-6-3 double-play to end the threat.
James Loney and Yunel Escobar had RBI singles in the sixth, then the Rays got busy again in the seventh when Ben Zobrist and Loney added RBI singles. The Rays scored another in the seventh on a Mikolas error to push the lead to 10-1.
Archer allowed one run on four hits while striking out a career-high 12 batters in seven innings en route to his eighth win of the season.
"That was exactly what the doctor ordered," said manager Joe Maddon of Archer's performance, which helped preserve the Rays depleted bullpen. "...Even after we got the lead it was up to Archie to take command of the moment and he did. That was nice."
Given the stakes, Archer rated Wednesday night's performance "up there" on his scale of career performances.
"I just trusted everything," Archer said. "I didn't think about anything negative. I just thought about each individual pitch and allowed the game to play out the way it was supposed to."
Brandon Gomes pitched the final two innings for the Rays. Meanwhile, catcher J.P. Arencibia finished out the night for the Rangers, throwing a scoreless ninth, prompting Maddon to chuckle: "See what happens when you throw strikes and change speeds."
Joyce was one of the hitters who had to face Arencibia and called it "such an awkward at-bat" when he led off the inning and popped out into foul territory.
"Because you're walking up to the plate and you're laughing and you're trying to concentrate," Joyce said. "And I think the second strike he threw me, the umpire called a strike and I was like, 'I thought that was a little up.' And he said, 'Really?'
"I told him they all count. You're up 10-1 and a position player is on the mound. You've got to swing the bat."
Maddon continues to believe in his team and itschances to play significant games in September. He harkened back to Tuesday night, noting that the Rays simply hit Wednesday night and did not on Tuesday.
"A lot of poeple might have been upset about last night, but I wasn't," Maddon said. "We could not have played harder than we did last night. We played great. We played wonderfully. We just didn't get any hits. ... You can see it in the dugout. They care. They absolutely care."