Rays righty Archer accomplishes feat not done in 100 years
SEATTLE — Chris Archer reached into his locker and grabbed the first T-shirt he could find.
Appropriately, "Make History" was written across the front.
"I’ve worn this shirt since spring training," Archer said. "It was literally the only shirt here other than my button-up that I’m going to wear on the plane and I haven’t showered yet."
Archer made his share of history on Sunday, becoming the first pitcher in more than 100 years to reach double digits in strikeouts without a walk in three straight starts, leading the Tampa Bay Rays over the Seattle Mariners 3-1 Sunday.
Archer (7-4) fanned 11 with zero walks in seven innings. STATS found no other pitcher with such a string in its research dating to 1914.
"It’s cool, man. It shows you the power of your mind. The less you focus on things you can’t control, a lot of times the better the outcome is," Archer said. "When I’m out there, I’m not thinking about strikeouts even when I `need’ a strikeout. I’m just trying to execute every pitch, and if you do that and simplify it to that, you start to do great things."
Archer had five three-ball counts and gave up six hits, along with an unearned run. After striking out 12 against Seattle on May 27 and 15 vs. the Angels last Tuesday, he won his fourth straight decision overall.
Archer said while the strikeout totals are impressive, the fact he’s gone 23 innings without issuing a walk is more important. Archer just missed becoming the first pitcher since Randy Johnson in 2001 with 12 or more strikeouts in three straight games.
"I guess he’s putting himself in his own class now," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "Very impressive. He just keeps giving us opportunities to win over and over."
Archer struck out at least one batter in every inning. Nelson Cruz and Brad Miller were the only two not to go down on strikes against the hard-throwing righty.
"I’m glad watching him from center field, left field, the stands, the dugout, the on-deck circle, I’m glad I don’t ever have to face him. That guy is a special, special pitcher," Rays outfielder Mikie Mahtook said.
Seattle was poised to get to Archer in the fourth inning when Seth Smith led off with a double and Cruz added an infield single to put runners on the corners with no outs. Archer struck out Kyle Seager and Mark Trumbo on six pitches.
With Logan Morrison at the plate, Cruz attempted a delayed steal of second but was caught in a rundown and couldn’t stay in it long enough for Smith to score.
Cruz said he misread a sign on the play.
"It was a fake and I went," Cruz said. "I just tried to make something up in that situation."
Seattle also had runners on first and second and no outs in the seventh, but Miller’s RBI single was all it would get, set up by Nick Franklin’s error.
Mahtook hit a solo home run and Logan Forsythe had an RBI single against Mike Montgomery (0-1), who pitched well against his former club, but got little run support.
Montgomery’s one walk led to the first run of the game. Jake Elmore walked in the top of the first, and scored from second base on Forsythe’s soft liner into center field. Mahtook homered with one out in the seventh.
Seattle fell a season-worst seven games below .500 and closed out a miserable 11-game homestand 2-9. Pitching was rarely the problem for the Mariners, it was a lack of hitting. They failed to score more than three runs in any game of the stay at Safeco Field, scoring a total of 21 runs.
Rays: 3B Evan Longoria was out of the starting lineup for the second straight game but came on as a pinch-runner in the eighth.
Mariners: RHP Hisashi Iwakuma threw a second bullpen session on Sunday as he continues to recover from back and side muscle injuries. He will have at least one more bullpen.
Rays: Tampa Bay has an off day Monday before opening a homestand against the Los Angeles Angels. Nathan Kearns (3-2) will start the opener.
Mariners: Seattle has an off day on Monday before starting an eight-game road trip in Cleveland. Roenis Elias (2-3) starts the opener against the Indians.