Chris Archer's time in the minors recently must have helped him fine-tune some aspects of his mechanics. Before entering tonight's game, his ERA was 6.06 (albeit with extremely limited innings pitched), and he looked very hittable when he was on the mound.
The same cannot be said about his night on the mound this evening: he was two hits shy of being unhittable.
After a Manny Machado single in the third inning scored Chris Dickerson, the Rays could not seem to tag Orioles' starter Jason Hammel for a single run thru the first six innings of play. While it wasn't necessarily a pitcher's duel as much as it was sub-par hitting, the game stayed 1-0 in favor of the Orioles for quite some time, looking like the Rays would be handed their third loss in the last four games.
That was would've been the case, except for one Desmond Jennings' and his two-run homer off Hammel, which gave the Rays the only two runs they'd need to seal the win.
Thanks to Archer's seven solid innings, in which he allowed only two hits, and one run while walking two and striking out two, all that was left after Jennings' homer was for setup man Joel Peralta to pitching a scoreless eighth so Rodney could close out the game in the ninth.
Again, that's exactly what happened.
Peralta continued to show why he's an undervalued setup pitcher/reliever, holding a team with talented hitters up and down the lineup to no hits, lowering his ERA to an amazing 1.91. Rodney, who has struggled a bit this year to return to his history-making, lights-out form from 2012, pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning, striking out two of the three O's batters he faced to earn his twelfth save of the season.
For Desmond Jennings, that home run might just be the confidence booster he needs to get things going. Having been considered the heir apparent to Carl Crawford when he was still on the Rays, Jennings has yet to live up to the lofty expectations that "being Crawford's replacement" brought about. He doesn't hit for a high average (currently hitting .249 while his career average is .248), hasn't hit many home runs, and seems a bit shy on the basepaths despite his elite speed.
A homer here, a two-hit game there, and he might just get something going in the coming games, which could really help fuel the Rays' offense which is currently struggling to consistently put runs on the board.
As long as the entire pitching staff can hold things down, the Rays might be able to gain some momentum, especially after they just beat the team that has offensive juggernaut Chris "Crush" Davis on it, who was held 0-4 by the Rays' staff tonight.
Game 2 of the series starts tomorrow afternoon at 4:10 PM, with Orioles' rookie Kevin Gausman (0-2, 7.20 ERA) going up against Jeremy Hellickson (3-2, 5.59 ERA).
Notable Stats from Tonight's Game:
C. Archer: (W, 1-1) 7 IP, 2 H, ER, 2 BB, 2 SO
D. Jennings: 1-3, R, HR, 2 RBI