ST. PETERSBURG — The least popular decision Saturday at Tropicana Field was the one made in the top of the eighth inning by Rays manager Kevin Cash to remove RHP Chris Archer with no outs and a one-run lead after Archer walked his first batter in four starts.
The move backfired when RHP Brad Boxberger allowed a two-run, pinch-hit home run to Conor Gillaspie that gave the White Sox a short-lived lead in what became a 5-4 Rays victory.
“I’m not going to sit here and say that he’s tired,” Cash said. “But we have so much confidence in Box, (LHP Jake) McGee, those guys at the back end, we’re going to use them.”
When asked for his reaction, Archer, after a 20-second pause, said, “Our bullpen’s been solid all year, so … you can’t really fault our manager for going to one of the better relievers in the game. Maybe his past couple of outings haven’t been up to his expectations. There’s a reason for why the Rays do things, and you have to sometimes remove how you feel emotionally and trust what they’re going to do and what they do is going to work out.”
Cash said had Archer not walked pinch-hitter Adam Eaton to start the inning, he would have been allowed to face Gillaspie. And if Archer retired Gillaspie, he would have had the chance to finish the inning.
Archer retired 10 straight batters before walking Eaton.
“The goal every time I step on the mound is to get a team win, and how do I do that? I focus on 60 feet, 6 inches away, and that’s it,” Archer said. “Any move that they make, I can’t control. I just have to focus on, you know, if I don’t walk that guy, we’re not even having this discussion, so I don’t walk that guy.”
Archer had faced 107 batters between walks, striking out 43 during that run.
It was the first time in four games that Archer did not reach double figures in strikeouts. He also snapped a six-game streak of allowing two or fewer runs.
Archer, who at one point threw 21 straight strikes, struck out five and took over the major-league lead with 113 strikeouts.
Upon further review
It took the replay officials in New York 3 minutes, 13 seconds to overturn the out call at second base in the eighth inning on Steven Souza Jr.’s attempted steal of second base.
It was a pivotal play in the game, since Cash was out of challenges and because Souza would soon score the winning run.
Cash said he stalled while video coordinator Chris “Chico” Fernandez checked the replays and relayed the go-ahead to bench coach Tom Foley. Cash said crew chief Dale Scott decided to use his review before Cash could even ask.
“Chico’s on fire, man,” Cash said. “He’s a stud. Somebody print that, please.”
Cash said there is nothing wrong with Boxberger, who missed the four-game series at Seattle last weekend because of triceps tightness.
The White Sox followed Gillaspie’s home run with two singles, but Boxberger escaped with a pair of strikeouts and a fielder’s-choice grounder.
“With Boxy, sometimes it looks so easy for him and it hasn’t been lately,” Cash said. “But the impressive thing is, he gives up the big home run and then he’s going right through the teeth of their lineup and keeps it right there ... and basically helped us win the ballgame.”
RHP Jake Odorizzi (left oblique strain) did sock throws Saturday and will play catch today for the first time since suffering his injury.
“Everything was A-OK,” he said. “No pain.”
LHP Drew Smyly (torn labrum) played catch for the first time since going on the disabled list May 9. He made 20 throws between 45 and 60 feet and said he felt good. He will throw again Monday.
Nick Franklin tripled to extend his hitting streak to four games. He has five hits in his past four games after beginning the year with three in his first 15. ... LF David DeJesus drew the 500th walk of his career in the first inning. ... McGee recorded his third save of the week.