video thumbnail

HOU@TB: Archer hurls complete-game shutout vs. Astros

Rays pitcher Chris Archer sent his team into the All-Star break on a high note when he pitched his first career complete game and shut out the Astros, 5-0. On Sunday, Archer will toe the rubber again, this time in an attempt to sweep the Blue Jays.

The 24-year-old Archer's talent has never been questioned by those in the Rays' organization. The hang-up has been in commanding and locating his electric pitches.

He has figured it out recently, posting wins in his last two starts, and quality starts in his last three outings.

"I'm just learning that I don't have to do anything more than be myself and use my stuff," Archer said. "I don't have to elevate my game. I just stay within myself and it's plenty."

His complete game was so impressive, manager Joe Maddon was asked whether Archer would be given consideration to remain in the starting rotation when right-hander Alex Cobb returns from the disabled list.

"To go six innings and get a win is a nice thing. But the nine-inning shutout, when you teach yourself that lesson, the sky is the limit," Maddon said. "Moving forward, we're going to have to make that decision, but it's a great problem to have."

Archer will be opposed by Toronto's R.A. Dickey. Last season's National League Cy Young Award winner has struggled to find consistency in the American League, but he put on a clinic in his last start against Tampa Bay.

Dickey tossed a two-hit shutout at Tropicana Field on June 26, keeping the Rays guessing at his knuckleball.

"There's really nothing you can do, I guess," center fielder Desmond Jennings said after the game. "He can do whatever he wants with it, which makes it tough. You just have to swing and hope it goes to where your bat is going."

Dickey's shutout accounted for one of four losses in the Rays' last 22 games.

Rays: Roberts on lease
Tampa Bay infielder Ryan Roberts has helped sustain the Rays' hot streak at the plate. His reward? A flight back to Triple-A Durham.

Roberts' two out-single in the eighth inning of Friday's game pushed the Rays to a win. But manager Joe Maddon acknowledged Roberts is the team's most expendable piece and would likely be shipped back to Triple-A when James Loney rejoins the team from the paternity list.

"He has not complained, sulked, nothing," Maddon said. "He's gone down there like a professional. He's come back up here twice and he's helped us win some pretty big games. ... That's all about him. I give him, and his makeup and who he is, credit to be able to do something like that. And it's wonderful to watch. It's a credit to him."

Roberts, who went 1-for-5 in Saturday's 4-3 win over Toronto, had a similar experience about a month ago. He was called up after pitcher Alex Colome went down, but the stay lasted only three days as he went back to Durham to clear space for David Price's return from the disabled list.

Roberts made noise during that stint as well, belting two home runs in a July 1 win over the Astros.

While he started the season on the Rays' Opening Day roster after being traded from Arizona during the offseason, he was sent to Durham for the first time on June 17 to make room for Wil Myers' promotion.

"When I get called on to play, regardless of where it is, I'm going to play to the best of my ability," Roberts said. "That's all I can do."

Roberts has filled in for Ben Zobrist as second base the last two games because Zobrist has moved over to shortstop with Yunel Escobar bothered by a strained right hamstring.

Blue Jays: Melky on the mend
As the Blue Jays attempt to spark a second-half surge, they appear to have reinforcements on the way.

Melky Cabrera has advanced to Triple-A as he continues to recover from tendinitis in his left knee.

After appearing in two games for Class A Dunedin and three for Double-A New Hampshire, Cabrera went 1-for-3 with a single in his first game with Triple-A Buffalo on Friday. Cabrera was removed after the seventh inning.

"The reports I've gotten are that he's running better," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "I'm not sure if he's running like he used to, but definitely better."

The challenge for Gibbons comes in finding room for Cabrera on his 25-man roster. To complicate matters, reliever Sergio Santos is also set to return soon.

Worth noting
• Luke Scott extended his hitting streak to a career-high 12 games when he singled in the eighth inning on Saturday.

• In 13 career starts, Archer has never faced the Blue Jays. Comments