ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Rays have had dual personalities in their first 15 games, producing a stellar 6-2 record at home and a 1-6 mark on the road, so manager Kevin Cash is happy the team continues a six-game homestand Wednesday against the Detroit Tigers.
“Nice to be back home, I guess,” Cash said Tuesday after the Rays’ 5-1 victory over Detroit, a result that ended Tampa Bay’s six-game skid against the Tigers. “It was a good day for a lot of people. We needed our bullpen, and a lot of guys came in and had success.”
Tampa Bay’s bullpen had a 6.85 ERA on the rough road trip that ended Monday in Boston, but the relief corps stepped up big Tuesday. Danny Farquhar, Tommy Hunter, Jumbo Diaz and Alex Colome combined for three perfect innings, retiring the final nine Tigers batters in order.
The Rays hope they won’t need the bullpen as much Wednesday as right-hander Chris Archer looks to build on a promising 2-0 start with a 2.21 ERA in three starts — all Tampa Bay wins.
Archer has only one win in six career starts against Detroit, despite a 3.12 ERA, but he was able to exorcise a longstanding hex against the Red Sox last week. He will pitch with confidence, as he is the first Rays pitcher to open a season with three starts of two runs or fewer allowed since 2013.
Detroit counters with right-hander Jordan Zimmermann, who is 1-1 but carries a 5.06 ERA. He is coming off a five-walk loss to the Minnesota Twins in which he didn’t make it out of the fifth inning.
Zimmermann has a 1-1 record and 3.80 ERA in four career starts against the Rays, and he is winless in two starts at Tropicana Field.
Tampa Bay was able to cool off the Tigers’ bats Tuesday as Detroit went 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position and managed only two hits after the first inning. The Tigers’ one run was a season low, and their four hits tied a season low. They have dropped three of five after opening the season 6-2.
“We didn’t really swing the bat badly — we didn’t get a lot of hits or score many runs, but we didn’t swing the bat badly,” said manager Brad Ausmus, pointing to three balls hit to the warning track in the first three innings, in addition to a 451-foot home run by Miguel Cabrera.
Detroit has hit at least one home run in all 13 games to start the year, extending a franchise record to start a season. Their streak is the longest in the majors to open a year since the Indians hit home runs in 14 consecutive games in 2002.
That streak will be tested by Archer, who hasn’t allowed any home runs in his first three starts of the season. He didn’t go three straight starts without a home run at any point in 2016, when he finished 9-19 and served up a career-high 30 long balls.