DETROIT -- Chris Archer overheard David Price telling reporters before Saturday’s game about how much stress is involved in facing the Tigers lineup, how there are no easy outs and how the power starts at the top and ends at the bottom.
Then Archer went out and, pitching mostly with a fastball that he located well, tamed that Tiger lineup in what he would later call his best outing of the year.
Archer came within two outs of pitching a complete game, but was more than satisfied with his effort in the Rays 7-2 victory at Comerica Park.
Would he have liked to have gotten those last two outs?
Obviously,” Archer said, “but again there was 25 outs I did get, and those are the ones I’m going to focus on.”
Rays manager Joe Maddon saw it as a growth moment for the young pitcher, one where Archer stayed with his strength against a powerful lineup and kept his team rolling through this winning road trip.
Saturday’s win was the Rays eighth in 10 games since they left Tropicana Field. They have won 16 of 24 and moved to within 10 games of .500 for the first time since May 31.
“It’s a good sign,” Archer said of the team’s performance through the three-city trip.
He could also say that about the way he pitched.
Tigers starter Anibal Sanchez took a no-hitter into the fifth inning, yet Archer matched Sanchez nearly out for out after allowing a single to Austin Jackson to start the first inning.
Logan Forsythe broke up the no-hitter with a long home run into the visitor’s bullpen in left-center field one out into the fifth inning. That started a three-run inning that was followed by a four-run inning.
Kevin Kiermaier tripled in both innings and drove in a total of three runs. Forsythe drove in another run on the first-and-third bunt play.
Sanchez allowed all seven runs, snapping a streak of 32 games where he allowed no more than four earned runs in any one start.
The rest of the day belonged to Archer. He allowed two runs on six hits in 8 1/3 innings.
“We’ve been waiting to see that from him,” Forsythe said, “and it was impressive.”
Maddon said Friday that Archer could become the right-handed Price once he learns to control his fastball to the point where he can throw it where he wants to on every pitch. It took Price several years to hone that skill. Maddon said Archer can move along that path once he perfects his changeup and gains better command of his fastball.
“When he learns how to elevate (the fastball) intentionally, heads up,” Maddon said.
Pitching the way he did Saturday to the Tigers lineup, even if it didn’t include Victor Martinez, is a big step forward for Archer, Maddon said.
“They’re thick. They have a lot of weapons,” Maddon said. “He’s got that kind of arm to do that against a lot of good teams. As he continues to get better, knows where that fastball is going, you’re going to see a lot of games like that from him.”
The Tigers’ runs came on a pair of solo home runs. The first, by Alex Avila, came with two out in the seventh inning. It was the first home run Archer allowed since May 11, snapping a career-long streak of 61 1/3 homerless innings. The second homer came in the ninth when J.D. Martinez clanked the first pitch of the inning off the left field foul pole.
“That’s a good hitting team,” Archer said. “They have a lot of power. I think any pitcher in this league would be OK with giving up two solo homers against them, so I’m not going to beat myself up over the ninth inning too much.”
Why should he? He beat a good team in their yard and his team is rolling.
“In this game you never know what’s going to happen,” Forsythe said. “We’re in the middle of it right now and we just have to keep it going.”