Chris Archer might be making his final start in the major leagues this season, but if his second outing goes anything like his debut, he'll have made a solid case for a future spot in the rotation.
The Tampa Bay Rays hope to provide him with a little more offense this time around.
Tampa Bay looks to get back on track Tuesday night after being shut out in its series opener with the host Kansas City Royals .
With Jeremy Hellickson on the 15-day disabled list due to right shoulder fatigue, Archer was called up from Triple-A Durham to fill the vacancy in the rotation.
Archer (0-1, 1.50 ERA) pitched a solid game in his major league debut opposite Stephen Strasburg , allowing only one earned run while striking out seven in six innings of a 3-2 loss to Washington on Wednesday.
The right-hander became the first pitcher not drafted by the Rays to start for the team since current Cub Matt Garza - whom he was traded for in January 2011 - on Sept. 30, 2010, ending a major league-record streak of 232 consecutive games.
It's almost certain Archer will head back to the minors after this outing with Hellickson in line to return Saturday.
"We're just seeing flashes of what he's capable of doing up the road as he learns to be more of a strike thrower with the kind of stuff he has," manager Joe Maddon told the team's official website. "As he learns to command that fastball where he wants to, heads up man, because you guys saw what kind of athlete he is."
The Rays (40-33) hope to send Archer out with a victory after falling 8-0 to the Royals on Monday. At the very least the bullpen will be rested, as Maddon opted to let Alex Cobb go the distance even though the righty gave up 13 hits and struck out only one.
Cobb became the first pitcher to toss a complete game while allowing that many earned runs and hits since Oakland's Rick Langford in 1980.
"He preserved everybody else, which preserves the integrity of the whole group for days," Maddon said.
The Royals (32-39) bounced back with a surprising shutout after allowing 30 runs while being swept by St. Louis over the weekend. Luke Hochevar pitched a seven-hitter, Eric Hosmer homered and Yuniesky Betancourt drove in three runs.
Bruce Chen tossed his only career shutout the last time he faced the Rays, a two-hitter in Kansas City's 7-0 home victory Oct. 1, 2010.
The left-hander gave up six runs and seven hits in 1 2-3 innings of a 10-7 loss to St. Louis on June 16, but he bounced back from his shortest outing in nearly seven years to beat Houston on Wednesday.
Chen (6-6, 4.81), pitching on only three days' rest due to the short previous start, allowed one run while striking out six in 5 2-3 innings.
"It has been a long road," Chen told the team's official website. "It always feels like we're trying to catch up to .500. This team is a very good team. Everyone wants to win."
Kansas City had lost five straight to Tampa Bay prior to Monday's victory, but it has won three of the last four meetings at home.
|Tampa Bay Rays|
|June 20, 2012||Matt Joyce||15-Day DL||Strained left oblique|
|June 17, 2012||Matt Joyce||Day-to-Day||Flu|
|June 15, 2012||Jeremy Hellickson||15-Day DL||Right shoulder fatigue|
|June 14, 2012||Luke Scott||Day-to-Day||Mid-back spasms|
|June 12, 2012||Ben Zobrist||Day-to-Day||Bruised right hand|
|June 09, 2012||Luke Scott||15-Day DL||Mid-back spasms|
|Kansas City Royals|
|June 18, 2012||Chris Getz||15-Day DL||Lateral strain in lower left leg|
|June 17, 2012||Chris Getz||Day-to-Day||Left game - Left lateral leg strain|
|June 07, 2012||Felipe Paulino||15-Day DL||Strained right groin|
|May 26, 2012||Jarrod Dyson||Day-to-Day||Left game - Right hamstring injury|
|May 22, 2012||Chris Getz||15-Day DL||Left ribcage contusion|
|May 22, 2012||Chris Getz||15-Day DL||Left ribcage contusion|
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Kansas City is doing to the Tampa Bay Rays precisely what the St. Louis Cardinals did to the Royals over the weekend.
Bruce Chen gave the Royals strong pitching for the second straight night, Jeff Francoeur and Yuniesky Betancourt homered to extend a string of hot hitting, and Kansas City routed the Rays 8-2 on Tuesday night to set up a chance for a series sweep.
Alex Gordon and Billy Butler also drove in runs to pace a Royals offense that was outscored by St. Louis 30-14 over the weekend, but has trumped Tampa Bay 16-2 through two games.
"What the Cardinals did to us those three days is what we're doing to the Rays, just adding on and adding on," Francoeur said. "It's a good time for us to get going."
Chen (7-6) gave up a run in the first inning and Brooks Conrad 's solo shot in the second, but was otherwise stingy on another warm night in Kansas City. The 35-year-old left-hander managed to avoid any serious trouble to win for the seventh time in his last nine decisions.
He built on a shutout tossed by Luke Hochevar in the series opener, and suddenly, a pitching staff that was hammered by the Cardinals has hamstrung the light-hitting Rays.
"I felt really good. I was mixing my pitches," Chen said. "We're not taking anything for granted, but we're feeling good, we're playing good, and now we we've won back-to-back games."
The Rays looked as though they were about to emerge from their own offensive funk the first two innings. They coaxed a run across in the first on consecutive hits and a fly ball by Hideki Matsui , and Conrad made it 2-0 when he went deep in the second inning.
That's where the highlights ended for Tampa Bay.
The Royals started to hit Tampa Bay starter Alex Archer (0-2) in the third inning, though they got plenty of help from Rays shortstop Sean Rodriguez , who committed errors on consecutive plays.
Jarrod Dyson led off with a single, and Alcides Escobar sent a rocket off the wall in left-center, just missing his second homer of the year. He was credited with a double, but went to third as Dyson scampered home when Rodriguez's relay throw to the plate resulted in an error.
Gordon stepped the plate and sent a grounder at Rodriguez, which brought home Escobar with the tying run. Rodriguez couldn't field the ball cleanly, which allowed Gordon to reach first.
It proved to be a costly when Betancourt homered over the bullpen in left.
The 23-year-old Archer, who was recalled last week to start in place of the injured Jeremy Hellickson , still managed to keep things close into the sixth. It was his second straight strong start, one that could keep him hanging around the big leagues in the future.
"I did my best to keep us in the game. The ball just didn't bounce our way on offense," he said. "Overall, I think I did play well. I made some mistake pitches, hung a slider. It happens."
It happened more once he turned things over to the bullpen.
Gordon doubled leading off the eighth inning, and after Mike Moustakas worked a one-out walk, Butler came through with an RBI single. Francoeur was next to the plate and crushed a pitch from reliever Brandon Gomes over the wall for an exclamation-point home run.
"The beat us. They just beat us," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "We need to score more runs."
They need to stop allowing so many, too. The Royals' once-scuttling offense has scored at least eight runs only seven times this season - including both games against Tampa Bay.
"Our approach has been great. We're swinging at good pitches, we're hitting balls hard," Butler said. "We were struggling before these last three games. It feels good to put up runs."
Notes: LHP Everett Teaford will be recalled from Triple-A Omaha to start for Kansas City in the series finale Wednesday. LHP Matt Moore will start for Tampa Bay. ... Maddon said DH Luke Scott (back stiffness) could return by Thursday. ... Tampa Bay skipped batting practice in part because of the heat. The game-time temperature was 93 degrees, and the forecast calls for 100 on Wednesday.