ANAHEIM, Calif. — Tampa Bay Rays RHP Chris Archer watched video of LHP David Price's complete game against Boston late in the 2012 season before Price pitched against the Mariners on Tuesday night.
Might he and Price watch video of Archer's complete game last summer at Yankee Stadium today before Archer faces the Angels?
“It wouldn't hurt to see myself out there and I was at my absolute best,” Archer said.
The storyline heading into tonight's start is the same as it has been before Archer's past few starts — the inability to finish off batters with two strikes, the inability to avoid the big inning and the inability to get right-handers to chase his slider.
“I think the reoccurring thing the past three or four starts is not executing with two strikes and having one big inning, and not executing with two strikes is driving my pitch count up,” Archer said. “With men on and two outs, the good pitches, the exceptional pitchers in this league make pitches and get out of it.”
Archer is 0-1 with a 7.36 ERA over his last three starts. He's walked 10 and struck out 11 and failed to pitch more than five innings in any of the three outings.
Opponents are hitting .277 against Archer when batting with two strikes. In 2013, they hit .152 during the same situation. The major-league average this season is .175.
Manager Joe Maddon said he talked with Archer while the team was in Seattle during the first leg of this road trip.
Maddon said they discussed pitching with a quicker tempo.
“Just get the ball and throw it. Don't overthink it,” Maddon said. “Just go out there and permit your athleticism to play, and it's OK to not be perfect.”
Archer said part of his problem starts with his tendency to overthrow his slider to right-handed hitters. The pitch goes far enough out of the strike zone that righties aren't even swinging at it.
“I'm just not locating,” Archer said. “I try to throw like super nasty ones instead of just my normal slider, so just focusing on changing my focal point instead of making my pitch sharper or better.”
INF Cole Figueroa arrived in the clubhouse in time to shake a few hands, change and join the Rays for batting practice.
The Rays purchased Figueroa's contract Thursday from Triple-A Durham and added him to the 40-man roster so he could be replace 2B Ben Zobrist (dislocated left thumb) on the 25-man roster.
“Obviously, I'd have rather it be just on merit alone,” Figueroa said. “You never want to see one of the best players in baseball, not just in the Rays, go down. Hopefully I can help out in a minuscule bit while I'm here. Hopefully I can and have some fun while I'm here.”
Maddon has been impressed with Figueroa since Figueroa showed up for spring training in 2013.
“I think Cole Figueroa is a very good baseball player,” Maddon said. “I sent him out this (spring) again and I told him and I meant it, 'you're a big-league baseball player.' I like his ability, his tools a lot. He's a very bright player. He's a smart baseball player. He was going to make the big leagues at some point, and he made it sooner based on the situation.”
Figueroa was acquired by the Rays in the 2010 trade that sent SS Jason Bartlett to the Padres.
Cobb nearly ready
RHP Alex Cobb will make his minor-league rehab start Saturday in Port Charlotte with Single-A Charlotte. He is scheduled to throw five innings, or 75 pitches.
If all goes well, Maddon said Cobb could rejoin the rotation Thursday when the Rays play the A's at Tropicana Field.
The rotation will be adjusted to accommodate Cobb. It could also be shuffled because of Monday's off day to keep Price on his normal five days. The Rays could also use six starters for one turn through the rotation if LHP Cesar Ramos is sent to the bullpen.
“There's all kinds of different things going on,” Maddon said, “so we got to sit down and nail it down.”
Is 194 too many?
Price gave a shout-out on Twitter to Washington high school pitcher Dylan Fosnacht, who threw 194 pitches Tuesday while pitching 14-plus innings of a state tournament game.
But, Price said, he's not a fan of the high pitch count for a prep pitcher.
“I'm not a fan of it,” Price said. “Hats off to him. Like I told him, he was a beast. If Joe is going to let me go out there for 194 pitches, I'm not going to take myself out. It's not his fault. That should never happen. That's crazy. It's high school.”
Because the temperature was in the high-90s Thursday afternoon, Price suggested the Rays take batting practice in shorts and T-shirts. Maddon agreed, though he wore his game pants. … RHP Jeremy Hellickson (elbow surgery) is scheduled to throw bullpen sessions today and Monday. If all goes well, he could progress to facing hitters later in the week. … The Rays won the last two games in Seattle 2-1 and 2-0. It was the fourth time this season, and the second time this year, they won consecutive games by scoring two or fewer runs.