Archer aims for another solid start as Pirates host Marlins
Then came an unsteady August — 1-2 with a 6.45 ERA in five starts, none more than five innings.
September started off better, and Archer (4-7, 4.56 ERA) will be looking to improve his Pirates resume Friday when he faces the Miami Marlins in a series opener at PNC Park.
He is coming off a no-decision Saturday in 5-3 Pittsburgh loss to Atlanta that could not be hung on him. Archer gave up two hits in six innings.
“Finally got some good results. It felt good,” Archer said. “It stinks that we lost as a team, but they’re in first place in their division for a reason.”
Archer, who was perfect through the first three innings, did two things that made a difference. He pitched out of the stretch, and he purposely did not question a call by veteran catcher Francisco Cervelli.
“I just went back to the basics,” Archer said. “It was a lot of fun to just look at the target and throw and not have to think about sequencing. That was all (Cervelli).
“The No. 1 thing was trust in Cervelli. I didn’t shake him at all. Literally, I did not shake him one time. I was basically like his little toy. … He said, ‘Papi, just trust me. Trust me, trust me, trust me.’ And it takes time. I looked at his resume, and I was like, ‘You know what? He’s right.'”
Archer will be looking for his second quality start for the Pirates on Friday after he struck out five, walked one needed just 86 pitches against the Braves.
He is 1-1 with a 1.80 ERA in three career starts against the Marlins, all while he was with Tampa Bay.
Pittsburgh (69-71) is coming off a three-game series sweep of Cincinnati going into the second half of a homestand against another team that is last in its division.
A second straight sweep would put the Pirates back above .500.
Miami (56-84) is 3-2 since a four-game losing streak and, before a day off Thursday, took two of three from Philadelphia.
The Marlins will send right-hander Dan Straily (5-6, 4.13 ERA) against Archer.
On a team that has struggled for every win and now is taking a long look at prospects — such as right-hander Sandy Alcantara, who pitched seven-plus scoreless innings Wednesday in a 2-1 win over Philadelphia — Straily has come on as a reliable veteran as the season has unfolded.
In his past 12 starts, he has given up three runs or fewer 10 times, with seven quality starts. He is 3-3 with a 3.64 ERA in that stretch.
In Straily’s first 10 starts, he was 2-3 with a 4.89 ERA with two quality starts.
He is coming off a no-decision last Friday when he pitched a season-high eight innings, allowing one run, before relievers Drew Steckenrider and Kyle Barraclough blew a four-run lead in the ninth of a 6-5 loss to Toronto.
“It’s a tough one to take, obviously,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “Dan pitched a quality game all day, and to not be able to get that last out is frustrating for everyone.”
In a tough situation during a tough season, Straily defended Steckenrider and Barraclough.
“At the end of the day, those guys are very good back-end relievers,” he said.
Straily is 3-3 with a 4.24 ERA in 11 career appearances against Pittsburgh.