NEW YORK — RHP Chris Archer remained confident there are no issues with his arm, but that didn't make him feel any better after a second straight rough outing led to the Rays suffering what manager Kevin Cash called a "tough loss," 3-2 to the Yankees on Wednesday.
The Rays dropped to 72-75 and are 4½ games — and six teams — from the second American League wild-card they co-held just a month ago. Now they have only 15 games left to make up that ground.
And it did nothing to alleviate questions about Archer, who — in allowing three runs and lasting only one batter into the fifth — has now made two abbreviated and unsuccessful starts since walking off the mound in Chicago on Sept. 2 after eight pitches (and two home runs) due to forearm tightness.
Over the three starts, Archer has a 14.14 ERA (11 earned runs in seven innings), allowing 22 of 43 batters to reach base, with 17 hits.
Archer insisted there is nothing wrong with his prized arm but is puzzled why he hasn't been pitching at his usual elite level.
"I have to execute better, period," he said. "I don't really know what else to say. There's no excuse. I'm just not doing what I get paid to do. It's tough because it's been a while when I've had a 10-day span when it's been inconsistent."
Cash had a similar take, that Archer was fine physically — noting his fastball was clocked at 97 mph — but just didn't pitch well. "It wasn't Archer's day from the get-go, he couldn't quite find his rhythm for whatever reason," Cash said. "It just looked … that he couldn't command any of his pitches."
That was evident early, as it took Archer 81 pitches to get his first nine outs, with five hits, three walks and a wild pitch in those three innings. (It took the bullpen only 25 pitches to get the next nine outs.)
Archer, now 9-10, 4.06, said the difficult stretch would make him better, as soon as his next start, and help him grow. But, he said, "it's not the time for that. We don't have time for people to figure things out. We have to get it done. And I didn't get it done."
Adding to the day's frustrations were several opportunities to trim the Yankees' lead that the Rays didn't convert. Most painful was in the seventh when, with a man on first, Corey Dickerson laced a ball that Yankees 3B Chase Headley snared and turned into a double play. Kevin Kiermaier homered — career-high 13th — in the third, and Adeiny Hechavarria delivered an RBI single off Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman in the eighth. "We did a good job putting pressure on them, we just came up a little short," manager Kevin Cash said. "We had opportunities. Certainly, their bullpen limited us making big pitches when the game was on the line."
Numbers of the day
24 Shutout innings by Rays pitchers of the 27 in the three games, yet they lost two.
The crew of LHP Jose Alvarado (left), RHP Andrew Kittredge, LHP Dan Jennings, RHP Sergio Romo and RHP Brad Boxberger combined for five shutout innings, extended the bullpen scoreless streak to 20⅓ innings. "Our bullpen came in and did everything you could possibly ask for in giving us a chance to get back in the game," manager Kevin Cash said.
Rookie RHP Jake Faria (left) is over the abdominal strain that sidelined him since mid August, but the Rays don't have room for him in their rotation right now, sticking with RHP Matt Andriese as their Friday starter against the Red Sox and no real option to send Faria to the minors. "We want to do right by him and us by trying to keep him lengthened out," manager Kevin Cash said. "We don't want him to just sit. I would imagine at some point over this Boston series we're going to try to get him multiple innings of work. It's not the easiest thing, given that it's September, and with the off-days (including today and Monday) we can't just insert a starter. It's already difficult with five, keeping everybody on normal rest or close to that."
Triple-A Durham lost 4-0 to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (Yankees) , evening the best-of-five International League Governors' Cup championship at a game apiece. The Bulls won the opener 6-0 behind a strong start by LHP Ryan Yarbrough, who worked seven innings and allowed three hits. … Short-season Class A Hudson Valley defeated Vermont (A's) 3-2 in 13 innings in the opener of the best-of-three NY-Penn League championship series. The Renegades advanced by beating Staten Island (Yankees) on Tuesday, top 2017 draft pick Brendan McKay working five shutout innings and retiring the first 11. … The Rays (plus the Orioles, Red Sox and Twins) are still determining when, or if, the fall instructional league will start at their spring training sites, last weekend's planned opening pushed back due to Hurricane Irma.
* DH/1B Lucas Duda's fifth-inning single snapped his Rays record streak of 13 consecutive hits going for extra bases. It's the longest such streak in the majors since Jim Edmonds had 13 in 2008 for San Diego and in the AL since Brad Fulmer had 15 for the Angels in 2002.
• LHP Xavier Cedeno (forearm) and RHP Nate Eovaldi (Tommy John surgery) were scheduled for an inning each for Triple-A Durham on Wednesday in their second rehab appearances.
• With a Wednesday afternoon crowd of 13,159, the three games against the Yankees — relocated from the Trop to the Mets' Citi Field because of Hurricane Irma — drew a total of 49,510 fans, who took advantage of $25 tickets. Rays manager Kevin Cash again praised and thanked the Mets for being so accommodating.