The bats were the same size. The strike zone had not been altered. The fences were not moved back.
But when Chris Archer is on the pitcher’s mound, it can make a world of difference for the Tampa Bay Rays.
Archer shut down the same potent bats from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, dazzling the opponents in a 6-1 victory Tuesday night. Archer struck out a record-tying 15 batters in eight innings, spreading six hits.
For Archer, 6-4, it was one of his most masterful performances, coming on the heels of a four-homer game for the Angels. This time, Albert Pujols tagged another one, but that was all the damage that Archer would give up.
Archer tied the Rays’ strikeout record held by James Shields.
The Rays broke the game open in the sixth inning when Jake Elmore had a bases-loaded single that barely evaded a diving Kole Calhoun’s glove, a catch that would have ended the inning. Logan Forsythe also had a two-run homer, and Asdrubal Cabrera had a two-run single.
Archer now leads the major leagues in strikeouts.
The Rays remain one game back in the American League East to the New York Yankees.
The Rays play the third game of the series tonight in Anaheim. Nate Karns will be on the mound for Tampa Bay against Hector Santiago.