Brad Miller seems intent on making Tropicana Field his home.
Miller launched yet another home run, his 25th of the season, Wednesday afternoon and the Rays got shutout pitching from Chris Archer to win 2-0. It was the Rays’ fourth sweep of the season.
Miller has three home runs in his last seven at-bats. Of his 25 homers, 19 have come at Tropicana Field. He has almost equaled his career total of 29 coming into the season.
“I think I am picking the right pitches to swing at,” Miller said, “and when you do, you can’t miss them because you might only get one per at-bat. That’s what I try do to, is hit the one pitch I get each at-bat and move it.”
Miller and teammate Evan Longoria have a combined 52 home runs, the most of any infield teammates in the American League.
Miller’s home run was enough for the Rays because pitcher Archer was at his best. Archer threw seven and one-thirds innings of four-hit, shutout baseball. Alex Colome had his 28th save.
“Baseball is a game where you have to be on top of your game no matter what the score is. It was nice to jump out and get some runs,” Archer said. “We played great defense. Their pitcher, after that first inning, was executing pitches at a high level. It was good that we scored early, but we played great defense today, too.”
Archer, 7-16, has gone at least six innings in 15 of his last 16 starts.
“I think any lead helps the starting pitcher at any point, especially when they get a little bit to work with. Arch was on today. A lot of swing-and-misses, the slider was good. He should feel pretty good about that outing.
“He got to 3-2 counts on a couple guys and made some big pitches. Just from the slider replays, you could tell he had a really good slider. It’s a lineup … that’s really only seen him on video, and there’s not a ton of history there. So anytime that happens, it’s generally advantage, Arch.”
The Rays are now 16-15 since the All-Star break.
“You look at what we’ve done, and we’ve been not just quality, but Rays quality. A quality start is not what we consider quality,” Archer said. “We hold ourselves to a higher standard here. It’s just what it is. So we did catch a lot of heat the first half of the season when we were pitching mediocre. It’s nice that we’ve gotten in a groove.”
For the Rays, one thing that didn’t go well was when Kevin Kiermaier plunked teammate Nick Franklin as he swung in the on-deck circle.
“The most contact I made this whole day was before the game even started. I was just doing a little warm up routine that I always do with a little weight on my bat,” Kiermaier said. “I was just swinging it. Nick went to go get some pine tar, and I always make sure that I am clear of everything, but I don’t think he saw me and I smoked his helmet. I had that weight on there too, so it probably didn’t feel too good. I felt terrible. It was a freak accident, but glad he is OK.”
Said Franklin: “I feel great. I feel like really nothing happened. Right when it first happened, it was shocking — that’s what caught me off-guard. I felt a little bit dazed, but I didn’t feel like anything happened particularly bad at all. Partially it was my fault because I saw him there and I thought I was out of the way, and next thing I know, I got whacked.”
Friday, the Rays play against the Rangers. Matt Andriese pitches against Cole Hamels.