Preview: Twins vs. Pirates
Chris Archer will be working on a full week of rest when he takes the mound Wednesday night as the Pittsburgh Pirates wrap up a two-game interleague series with the Minnesota Twins at Target Field.
Archer, still settling in with his new team after being dealt by Tampa Bay ahead of the trade deadline, used the extended time off to work on his two-seam fastball. He is also incorporating a curveball into an arsenal that already includes a four-seamer clocking in at almost 95 mph this season as well as a solid changeup and a devastating slider.
"I'm using a full arsenal now instead of limiting myself to two, occasionally three," Archer told MLB.com.
Archer went to the two-seamer early in his career but hadn't thrown it much over the last three seasons. Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage is a big proponent of the pitch and Archer said he thinks it will make him a much more effective pitcher in the long run.
"It's been great," Archer said of his work with Searage. "I'm a big fan of his style of coaching. He brings a positive attitude every day, regardless of the outcome the night before. He tends to have a smile on his face, and the way he delivers messages, it's easy to digest. ...
"As players, it's an everyday battle. This game is more mental than it is physical at this level. Him being the consistent positive energy and voice, it helps everybody."
Archer (4-5, 4.36 ERA) has been solid if not spectacular since joining the Pirates, going 1-0 with a 4.82 ERA while striking out nine in two starts. He held the Rockies to two runs on five hits and a pair of walks while striking out three over five innings Aug. 8 to earn his first victory for Pittsburgh.
He took the mound for that outing despite a bout with food poisoning that left him stuck in bed a day earlier.
"I felt good enough to pitch and went out there for the boys and gave it my all," Archer said.
He struck out seven over 4 1/3 innings and allowed two runs (one earned) and two hits in a July 14 start against the Twins. In his April 20 start against Minnesota, Archer allowed four hits and two runs over 6 2/3 innings, but did not get a decision in the Rays' 8-7 victory.
He is 6-1 with a 1.96 ERA in nine career starts versus Minnesota.
The Twins send right-hander Jose Berrios (11-8, 3.66) to the mound in search of a two-game sweep Wednesday.
Berrios' last outing was one of his shortest of the season. He lasted four innings against Cleveland, allowing four runs on four hits with a career-high six walks.
"I was opening myself on my release," Berrios said through an interpreter. "I didn't feel strong enough to pitch a good game. It's just one of those weird things. Day games, it hasn't been good for me. But I'm still doing my routine normally like I do all the time."
Minnesota manager Paul Molitor shuffled his outfield for the series opener Tuesday night, moving Max Kepler to center with Jake Cave moving to left and Eddie Rosario taking over in right.
"We thought here over the remaining weeks to try to give a few different looks at that combination, and they're all capable of playing all three outfield positions," Molitor said.