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Thursday, Dec 18, 2014
Rays

Rays Notes: Archer motivated after poor outing

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— After being knocked around by the Red Sox in his previous start, Rays RHP Chris Archer hopes to flush the poor performance out of his system heading into tonight’s start against Toronto.

Archer threw 65 pitches in the first two innings on Friday, allowing Boston to bat around in each inning to become the first Rays pitcher to allow a team to bat around twice in the same game.

In allowing a season-high eight runs on 10 hits in four innings, Archer all but threw the tape of his outing into the waste basket.

“For me there is no real reason to go back and look. I know I didn’t execute pitches,’’ Archer said. “The walks hurt me, every walk scored and my pitch execution even without the walks wasn’t good, and that happens. I try to be as precise as I can be but every night is not going to be your night. You hope it’s not going to be like that every time. But I didn’t look at (the tape). I know what I need to do better and I worked on those things in the past four days.’’

Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said Archer might have been thinking too quickly when trying to pitch out of the early-inning jams and that led to big innings for Boston.

“He’s been able to avoid the big innings by pitching around big moments. He was just not able to do that the other night,’’ Maddon said. “The biggest thing, more than anything, is command over all his pitches. He probably let the game get a little too fast for himself at that moment. So I’d like him to continue to learn to slow the game down, be able to regroup when things aren’t going well and come back and make a better pitch.’’

Archer said he’s stronger physically and mentally this September as compared to last season — his first full season in the majors — and feels better equipped to recover from the rough outing.

“Just when you think you have it all figured out, life and the game is going to show you that you don’t,’’ Archer said. “It’s just one of those things that it’s there and it motivates you that there is always room for improvement.’’

Still hobbled

CF Desmond Jennings sat out his fifth consecutive game with soreness in his left knee and does not appear close to returning to the lineup.

Jennings did some light jogging along the warning track with head athletic trainer Ron Porterfield prior to Tuesday’s game. But as Jennings came off the field, he said the knee feels the same as it did when he was initially scratched from the lineup Friday and that he’s unsure when he will be able to get back on the field.

Though Maddon said Jennings continued to experience the same soreness, all tests have come back negative for any structural damage. Maddon said Jennings is available for pinch-hitting duties.

“He’s able to play, but to just put him out there and just run him into the ground is not a good idea,’’ Maddon said.

Into the fire

Maddon has a penchant for getting relief pitchers into the action early upon their arrival on the roster.

That’s exactly what Maddon did with RHP Steve Geltz, who came on late in Monday’s game to face Yoenis Cespedes while trying to protect a one-run lead in his Rays debut.

Geltz, who last pitched in the majors in 2012 when he made two appearances with the Angels, knew he had to be ready if called upon.

“Some of the guys had warned me that he likes to get new guys in there and get their feet wet right away,’’ Geltz said.

Maddon said he likes to do that with pitchers, not because he wants to test them right away, but rather get them acclimated as quickly as possible.

“Once you get them absorbed, they can really help you,’’ Maddon said. “If a guy gets called up and sits around for four or five days, he feels like he’s on the periphery all the time and not really a part of this and doesn’t have any ownership at all. So all of a sudden you ask them to come in (to) a crucial moment of a game and he hasn’t pitched in four or five days, it’s just really a bad way to do business.’’

After his first appearance in the majors since Aug. 17, 2012 — against the Rays — Geltz said he was overwhelmed with the number of messages he received from friends and family.

“It was impressive. I just kind of left it alone for a little bit because it gets to the point where you try to send a message and another one comes in,’’ Geltz said. “So I let it all collect and then I’ll reply.’’

Clean sheets

The Rays have played 34 games this season that resulted in a shutout, the most by an American League team since the 1973 Yankees. Tampa Bay is tied for the major-league lead with 18 shutout victories (St. Louis) and 16 shutout losses (San Diego). The last AL team to lead in both categories was the 1947 Washington Senators.

With 75 shutouts pitched since 2010, the Rays have accumulated the most by an AL team over a five-year span since the 1974-78 Baltimore Orioles (78) and 1974-78 Texas Rangers (76).

Extra innings

Former Rays bat boy and Toronto pitcher Jesse Litsch threw out the ceremonial first pitch. ... All players and coaches wore a special backward ‘K’ cancer T-shirt during batting practice in a MLBPA initiative to raise awareness and funds for cancer-related charities across the U.S. ... RHP Jeremy Hellickson will visit patients and staff at All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg today at noon.

Erik Erlendsson

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