BALTIMORE — With a victory tonight, Rays RHP Chris Archer would have won his first five career starts against the Yankees. The last pitcher to do that was Hall of Famer Walter Johnson between 1907 and 1908, when the Yankees were known as the Highlanders.
“Baseball history is super interesting,” Archer said. “It’s cool to be part of that history.”
As it stands now, Archer and Ervin Santana are the only pitchers in the past 30 years to win their first four career starts against the Yankees.
“When I step out there on the mound, it’s definitely not on my mind,” Archer said. “I go out with the same mentality every game.”
Archer is 4-0 with a 1.26 ERA in 282⁄3 innings against the Yankees, including 2-0 with one earned run allowed in 15 innings in the Bronx.
Archer well remembers his last start at Yankee Stadium. He threw a two-hit shutout in the Rays’ 1-0 win on July 27, 2013, making him the first pitcher in team history to throw a shutout against the Yankees.
“I threw the best game I ever threw in my life,” Archer said. “Since that point, I know what I’m capable of and I’m striving to do that every night out. That’s the standard for me.”
When asked what he remembered about that game, Archer said, “I remember the big smile on David Price’s face. I think a couple starts before that he threw a complete game in under 100 pitches and I did the same thing. I said, ‘I’m just following your lead, man, just like I have been for a while.’ ”
Escobar decision today
SS Yunel Escobar was pleased with how his sore right shoulder responded when he made 40 throws at 90 feet to head athletic trainer Ron Porterfield before Sunday’s game.
Manager Joe Maddon was hoping for some clarity as to whether Escobar could return to the lineup during this series against the Yankees in New York or if Escobar needed to go on the disabled list.
“He’s going to go full gorilla (today). He’s going to go out and do his ground balls, take BP and throw on the field at Yankee Stadium. He felt better, so that’s why we didn’t make any movement. I think (today) truly is the tell-tale sign. He was smiling easily after the game, so I’m thinking he’s feeling better.”
Cobb moving forward
RHP Alex Cobb pitched five innings Sunday and earned just his second victory in eight starts since returning from the disabled list.
Cobb allowed three earned runs on eight hits in five innings, but he did not return to the mound after the Rays scored seven times in the top of the sixth. Cobb said he felt he was making good pitches but gave the Orioles credit for hitting the ball.
Despite throwing 82 pitches in his five innings, Cobb said he felt it was a positive outing.
“Results, whatever they’re going to be, aren’t going to determine if I’m feeling right,” Cobb said. “All I’m worried about right now is getting back to that feeling I had earlier in the year and last year, being more aggressive and attacking hitters. … I felt like I really took a big step forward in my progress.”
The K corner
Five pitchers combined to strike out 10 batters Sunday, giving the Rays 278 strikeouts this month. That extends the team record for strikeouts in one month.
The Rays need nine tonight to break the major-league record for strikeouts in a month of 286, set in August 2002 by the Cubs.
Archer, who has 86 strikeouts in 93 innings this season, has a chance on the final night of the month to help the Rays’ staff put its names in the record book.
“Anytime you can have your name or your team’s name or your staff’s name in the history of baseball that has been around over 100 years, it’s special,” Archer said.
Matt Joyce is the seventh Ray to have five hits in a game. The last was Ben Zobrist on June 10, 2013. Joyce is the fifth Ray to have 12 total bases in a game. Joyce missed a chance on going 6-for-6 when he grounded out in the ninth, swinging at the first pitch from RHP Tommy Hunter. … RHP Jeremy Hellickson (right elbow surgery), who left his last start with Triple-A Durham because of elbow soreness, is scheduled to throw his between-starts bullpen today at Tropicana Field and continue with his rehab assignment with the Bulls.