What a difference three weeks can make. On June 22, the Tampa Bay Rays were floundering around in last place, and their usually reliable pitching staff couldn’t seem to get anyone out.
Now let’s fast forward to Sunday afternoon. Rookie Chris Archer dominated the Houston Astros, throwing 112 pitches (80 strikes) in recording his first-ever complete game shutout, 5-0. That averages out to nearly 14 pitches per inning–extremely efficient if you ask me.
He never walked anyone either, making this his second consecutive game without issuing a free pass. Because of that, the Astros had little to no chance of getting within striking distance.
Something else to note would be Archer’s numbers from last month to this month. He went 2-3 with an ERA above four in June, but thus far in July, he’s allowed two runs over 21 innings of work.
Archer’s not the only one though . This entire team’s been clicking, evidenced by their 17-4 record since that horrible stint in last place.
The return of 2012 Cy Young Award winner David Price from injury definitely helped. He’s delivered one quality start after another since being activated July 2 in Houston. Two of those games lasted all nine innings, while one (the first) saw him work seven innings.
Jeremy Hellickson‘s another one. He began this season struggling mightily but looks to be righting the ship, allowing four runs (all earned) in 26 innings of work. As a result, his ERA went down by almost one run, from 5.50 to 4.67. Certainly something to build upon going forward.
Going forward, the Rays’ starters must build on their recent success. If that happens, there’s a legitimate chance this team will be playing October baseball.