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What can the Tampa Bay Rays do about pitcher Chris Archer’s struggles?

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They gave Drew Smyly a day off. They sent Matt Andriese to the bullpen. They sent Dana Eveland to the minors.

Ah, but what should the Tampa Bay Rays do with Chris Archer?

Archer, an all-star a year ago, continued his terrible start to his season, and to his games, in a 6-1 loss the Cleveland Wednesday night. It was the Rays’ seventh straight loss, the longest of the season, and it left them eight games under .500.

Archer’s horrible start is one of the biggest mysteries of the season. This time last year, he was 9-4 with a 2.01 ERA. This year, he is 4-10 with a 4.70 ERA. No one has lost more games in the major leagues. He has given up 15 more walks than his first 16 starts a year ago, and ten more home runs and 13 more first-inning runs.

“It’s definitely frustrating,” manager Kevin Cash said. “We’ve got a couple of frustrating things going on. I don’t think it’s a mystery at all.”

For Archer, it took nine pitches before he was on his way to losing again. He walked Carlos Santana on five pitches, then gave up a home run to Jason Kipnis to fall behind 2-0. Archer ended up giving up four earned runs and six hits in six innings.

“It is very frustrating putting the team behind the eight ball numerous times this season,” Archer said, “It’s something I need to get better at.”

After ten losses, it might be easy to be exasperated at Archer. On the other hand, he would have had to shut Cleveland out to win. The Rays managed only three hits for the second straight night against Cleveland. Trevor Bauer struck out 10 and went the distance.

The Rays have the day off today, then go to Baltimore. Matt Moore will pitch Friday.

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit garysheltonsports@gmail.com.

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