TORONTO - The Rays are 21-8 since RF Wil Myers joined the team June 18 in Boston, and the rookie has been the second-leading hitter on the team during this 19-4 run. Coincidence? "For the most part I think his arrival coincides with pitching coming to bear," manager Joe Maddon said. The Rays began this run of good pitching June 23 with a win against the Yankees in New York. The staff has a major league-best 2.24 ERA during that span.
RHP Jeremy Hellickson's five-inning outing in Saturday's 4-3 win against the Blue Jays snapped a run of 16 straight games in which the starting pitcher went at least six innings. Myers, meanwhile, has given the offense a spark. His average is up to .310 after his two-hit, two-RBI game Saturday while batting cleanup for the first time this season. "I just think it's an all-around team game," Myers said. "I don't think it's just me at all. I know it's not just me. Our team is playing well." Myers has six multihit games in his past seven games, batting .500 during that span. "(I'm) not trying to make light of that," Maddon said. "But primarily what you're seeing is we're getting back to our roots and that's really pitching and catching it well like we've talked about." Escobar rests SS Yunel Escobar (strained right hamstring) did not play Saturday, and Maddon said he likely won't return to the lineup until Monday, when the Rays begin a four-game series in Boston. "He's definitely making progress," Maddon said. "Let's just be a little more patient." Under the weather Hellickson wasn't feeling as bad as he did last year in Anaheim, when he actually got sick behind the mound. However, he wasn't feeling 100 percent Saturday. Hellickson said there is a bug going around the clubhouse (it's claimed DH Luke Scott and OF Sam Fuld) and it hit him Friday after batting practice. He felt lightheaded and nauseous. Add a hot Saturday afternoon and Hellickson did a good job giving the Rays five innings for his fifth straight win. "He was not on top of his physical health, either, and he went his five. That was very big," Maddon said. Tough hop for Rodney Closer Fernando Rodney earned his 23rd save and tied Danys Baez for second all-time in franchise history with his 71st as a Ray. But it didn't come easy. Rodney allowed a run and had the tying and winning runs in scoring position when he got Adam Lind to fly out to center field for the final out. The big play was a two-out RBI single by DH Edwin Encarnacion on a grounder back to the mound that managed to get past Rodney. Rodney said he had the ball all the way until it took a big bounce when it hit the clay on the mound. "I saw ground ball coming, but when it bounced and it got to (my glove) I tried to catch it and I missed it," he said. Rodney converted his 14th consecutive save opportunity. He is 30 saves behind Roberto Hernandez's team record of 101. Archer's turn RHP Chris Archer makes his first start today since throwing his first complete-game shutout July 14 against the Astros. "Over the (All-Star) break I kind of turned off of baseball, but if my mind did go toward baseball I could replay pitches and the 27th out," Archer said. "I've never gotten the last out of a baseball game professionally. "It was a special feeling and one that I'm going to continue to replay until I get the 27th out again." Archer had never pitched past the seventh inning during his professional career. Now that he's done it once, Archer feels it is something he will be capable of doing every time he takes the mound. "For me to stretch it to the eighth was pretty amazing, and to stretch it to the ninth was awesome, too," he said. "Now I just have a higher expectation. Or not really an expectation, but I know what I'm capable of." Noteworthy 1B James Loney is expected to rejoin the team today after missing the first two games of this series due to the birth of his first child, a son, who was born Friday. The Rays will make a corresponding move, and it is expected INF Ryan Roberts, recalled Friday to replace Loney on the roster, will go back to Triple-A Durham. . Scott extended his hitting streak to a career-high 12 games. . CF Desmond Jennings was 3-for-4 and is batting .365 this month. . The Rays have won eight of their past 11 road games and are 7-0-1 in their past eight series. Roger Mooney