SPRING TRAINING: Rays bats silent, Archer impresses in final start before WBC; preview of today’s game

By Bryan Levine, SunCoast Sports

Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Chris Archer (22) faces Baltimore during the second inning Saturday at Charlotte Sports Park (Sun Photo by Tom O'Neill)

Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Chris Archer (22) faces Baltimore during the second inning Saturday at Charlotte Sports Park (Sun Photo by Tom O’Neill)

PORT CHARLOTTE — Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Chris Archer was outstanding in his three-inning outing on Saturday.

Archer was perfect, retiring all nine batters he faced. He totaled five strikeouts, with a pair of flyouts and groundouts.

“I felt really good today,” Archer said. “Everything felt good. I was full intensity, under control obviously, but full intensity.”

His fastball mostly sat between 94 and 95 mph, but he topped out at 97 on the gun for one pitch.

The next time Archer takes the mound won’t be with the Rays. He’ll be joining Team USA for the World Baseball Classic on Monday. They’ll have exhibition games in Fort Myers before the first actual game on March 10.

Archer will start that opener against Colombia in Miami.

STRIKE ‘EM OUT
Rays pitchers combined for 16 strikeouts in the loss – a team record as of 2006.

Both Tommy Hunter and Danny Farquhar struck out all five batters they combined to face.

“Three strikeouts is kind of a rare occasion for me,” Hunter said. “It was fun because my dad was in the stands.”

WAITING ON RASMUS

Off-season free agent signee Colby Rasmus has yet to appear in a game for the Rays.

Rasmus is battling a groin injury, and has been slowly progressing the last few weeks.

“He does a lot of cage work, and that’s the way his routine is,” manager Kevin Cash said. “If that’s what he wants to do it, that’s fine by us.”

Cash didn’t give a timetable for when to expect Rasmus in a spring training game.

WORLD BASEBALL CLASSIC
Rays pitcher Jake Odorizzi was added to the USA WBC roster on Friday.

He will be part of the designated pitchers pool, meaning he’s ineligible to pitch in the first round, and would likely replace a starter for the second or third round. Odorizzi joins the team replacing Oakland’s Sonny Gray

SCHOOL EMPLOYEE APPRECIATION
Prior to Saturday’s game, the Rays honored Charlotte County Public School employees.

If you’re a CCPS employee and missed out on your two free tickets to Saturday’s game, you can still get them for one of the upcoming home spring training games. Bring your school ID to the box office at Charlotte Sports Park.

ORIOLES 1, RAYS 0

HITTER OF THE GAME
Chris Johnson, Orioles:
Accounting for the only run of the game, Johnson hit a lead-off ground-rule double to open the seventh inning. Pinch runner Joey Rickard came around to score on Logan Schafer’s ground out.

PITCHER OF THE GAME
Chris Archer, Rays:
Archer was flawless in his three innings of work, retiring all nine batters he faced. Five of those batters went down on strikes, and he topped out at 97 mph on the radar gun.

KEY INNING
Top 7th:
That was the inning Johnson led off with the double leading to the game’s lone run.

PROSPECT WATCH
Peterson/Varona, Rays:
 In a game with limited base runners on both sides, the only relative youngsters with a hit were Shane Peterson and Dayron Varona.

THEY SAID IT

“Offensively, you could probably make the argument that on a normal day, we hit four balls out of the ballpark. But today we didn’t have anything to show for it. That’s OK, I think. The guys played a clean, efficient game.”

Kevin Cash, Rays manager on the offensive output on a windy day.

TAMPA BAY (5-3-1) at TORONTO (2-6) 

WHEN: Today, 1:07 p.m.
WHERE: Florida Auto Exchange Stadium, Dunedin
SCHEDULED STARTERS: RH Alex Cobb vs. RH Marcus Stroman
PITCHING PROBABLES
RAYS:
  RH Alex Cobb (start), RH Ryan Garton, RH Jacob Faria, RH Jaime Schultz, RH Hunter Wood, LH Justin Marks.
BLUE JAYS:  RH Marcus Stroman (start), RH Marco Estrada, RH Roberto Osuna, Joe Smith, LH Aaron Loup, RH Bo Schultz, RH Ryan Tepera, LH Tim Mayza.

ON DECK

MONDAY: Off. TUESDAY: vs. New York (AL), 1:05 p.m, WEDNESDAY: vs. Team Colombia, 6:35 p.m. THURSDAY: vs. Pittsburgh, 1:05 p.m., FRIDAYat Pittsburgh, 1:05 p.m.

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