Preview: Rays looking for long start from Chris Archer against Mariners

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The Tampa Bay Rays and Seattle Mariners certainly could use extended innings from their starting pitchers Saturday night.

The teams combined to use 13 pitchers in Friday night’s series opener, which the Mariners won 4-3 in 13 innings on Mitch Haniger‘s home run off Matt Andriese.

Right-hander Chris Archer (3-3, 4.29 ERA) is scheduled to start Saturday for Tampa Bay against Mariners left-hander Marco Gonzales (5-3, 3.60).

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If recent form is any indication, Archer and Gonzales could pitch deep into the game — and it might be low-scoring as well.

Archer, who is 1-2 with a 2.80 ERA in six career starts against Seattle, has allowed one run or fewer in three consecutive starts. He pitched six scoreless innings Monday at Oakland as the Rays won 1-0 in 13 innings.

On Monday, Archer allowed four hits and two walks and struck out seven against the Athletics. He got out of a bases-loaded jam in his final inning, which contributed to manager Kevin Cash pulling him after 88 pitches.

“I just felt like that was it,” Cash said. “We talk about the workload and how he gets there. He got there so easy and efficiently, but that last inning, the pitches were up a little bit. I thought he had done his job to give us a chance to win.”

Archer, though, wanted to keep going.

“(Cash) just came up to and said I was done,” Archer told the Tampa Bay Times. “It was the toughest inning. My command got away from me a little, but the umpire was super tight. I’m not saying every pitch I threw there was a strike, but there were some borderline pitches that didn’t go my way. It was a taxing inning. I would’ve liked to go a little bit more. But I’m just following the orders.”

Gonzales, who will be facing Tampa Bay for the first time in his career, hasn’t allowed an earned run in his past three starts. He went 6 2/3 innings in a 2-1 victory Monday against Texas, allowing one unearned run on four hits.

“I’m not trying to pay too much attention to that,” Gonzales said of his recent performances. “I’m trying to keep my approach simple, throw a lot of strikes, get ahead of guys and good things will happen when you do that.”

Gonzales was acquired last July from St. Louis for top hitting prospect Tyler O’Neill. The Mariners managed Gonzales’ workload last year as he was coming off Tommy John surgery.

“Yes, there was a lot of questions from a lot of people. I’m really happy for him,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said after Monday’s game. “I think that’s what our scouts saw when we made the trade for him. The guys in the front office recognized if we get this guy, get him back completely healthy and in a really good environment he could be a guy that could carry innings.”

That’s what Gonzales and Archer will be tasked to do Saturday night.