The Rays opened their 10-game home stand on a winning note by defeating the Baltimore Orioles by a final score of 2-1. The victory was their 9th win in their last 12 games and improves their record to 33-27 and drops the Orioles to 34-27.
The Rays went back to a familiar formula in beating the Orioles. First they received a quality start from Chris Archer, a timely hit by their offense giving them a lead heading into the 8th inning which Joel Peralta held, and summoned Fernando Rodney from the bullpen to face the heart of the Orioles order to earn the save.
Chris Archer (1-1, 4.91 ERA) picked up the victory tying a career high 7 innings allowing 1R/1ER on 2 hits striking out 3, walking 2, and hitting a batter. He threw 84 pitches, with 53 for strikes. He threw a first pitch strike to 15 of 25 batters he faced and had a swing and miss on 8 of his 84 pitches.
Archer was not upset about being removed from the game after only 84 pitches and isn’t aware of what pitch count he is held to but that “you can never go wrong if you have the best set up man and the best closer, in my opinion, come in after you in the 8th and 9th inning. So you can never be upset about that.”
The only inning that Archer found trouble was in the 3rd allowing two walks and a 2-out RBI single to Manny Machado but stepped off the mound and regained his composure to retire Nick Markakis with runners on the corners. Archer said he wasn’t stressed in that inning saying “I felt like I was in control the whole time. Honestly, I was just sticking with what I felt and what was working, because my misses ere very small. So I was bale to stay within myself. I didn’t have to change anything.”
Jason Hammel (7-4, 5.18 ERA) had held the Rays scoreless for the first 6 innings but gave up a leadoff single to James Loney in the bottom of the 7th and tried to sneak a first pitch fastball past Desmond Jennings who launched a 432 foot home run to straight away center field to give the Rays a 2-0 lead.
Since being dropped from the leadoff spot on May 27th Jennings is hitting .344 (11 for 32) with 5 extra-base hits in 10 games. After the game Jennings said he thought about bunting but was going “to give himself one pitch. If that didn’t work, I thougth I’d lay down a bunt.”
Joe Maddon said that Jennings home run was properly struck. “That’s Manny Ramirez territory from several year ago. Not many go there. When you hit a home run to dead center field and you know it from the moment the ball is struck, you’ve hit it well here, and that was gone.”
Jason Hammel said of the home run to Jennings “Just a fastball. I’d been feeding him fastballs all night and getting away with it, but making good pitches on him. Came back over the plate in teh middle, and I’m sure he was sitting on it. Big league hitters don’t miss mistakes too often.:
Joel Peralta worked a scoreless 8th inning allowing only a walk to Nate McClouth and turned the ball over to Fernando Rodney to protect a 2-1 Rays lead with Nick Markakis, Adam Jones, and Chris Davis due up.
Rodney jumped ahead of Nick Markakis pouring a 97 mph fastball by him before he grounded out to Evan Longoria 1-pitch later. Adam Jones took a 98 mph fastball to get ahead in the count but swung through an 84 mph change up, fouled off a 97 mph fastball, and struck out swinging on a 99 mph fastball.
The only thing standing in the way of a Rays victory was Chris Davis. Rodney started him off with an 84 mph change up for strike one and doubled up and got him to swing through an 85 mph change up for strike 2. Several times this season the Rays have been one strike away from victory only to watch the victory slip away but not tonight. Rodney reared back and threw a 99 mph fastball for a called third strike.
Since blowing his 5th save against the New York Yankees on May 25th Rodney has now made 7 straight scoreless appearances and only allowed 1 hit with 7 strikeout in 6.1 IP in picking up 4 saves in 4 chances. Rodney was happy with the efficiency at which he finished off the game tonight saying “I think it’s a good sign for me, and for letting them know I’m ready to got omorrow. I’m going to try and do the same thing I did tonight.”