Archer returns, but departs in a hurry

by Gary Shelton on August 23, 2021

in general

Archer's return lasted eight batters./CARMEN MANDATO

Monday, 4 a.m.

The wait was eternal.

The return was brief.

After missing 116 games with an injury, Chris Archer returned to the mound Sunday afternoon for a hurried start in the Rays' 9-0 victory over the Chicago White Sox. Archer lasted only 41 pitches -- and two innings -- before leaving with hip stiffness.

Archer had success while he was in the game. He struck out four and allowed only one hit over his eight batters faced before his hip began to bother him. Archer, however, doesn't believe his injury is serious.

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"With the little bit of rest I've had and the treatment we did, I fewl a lot better," Archer said. "It’s one of those situations I noticed a little drop in my fastball. I felt the achiness, the tightness in my hip. If I can’t be out there and give close to my best self, I thought it was smartest to take a little breather. With these upcoming off days, I should be all right in day six or seven.

"We know there's nothing structurally wrong. I’ve had to learn the hard way recently, but when your body talks, you have to listen. I'm just trying to be smart and think about the team."

Archer said his discomfort began early.

"I didn't feel confident stepping on my heater, and I think it was noticeable there in these second inning," Archer said. "My off-speed stuff felt unbelievable. For some reason, whenever I tried to really put my foot down, the hop didn't feel quite as stable as it did when I was warming up."

Cash didn't sound as sure about a quick return.

"I talked to him after he came out of the game," Cash said. "It's the same hip but maybe a different spot. We'll see how he goes about tomorrow. Something in there’s that not right. He's probably holding back a little instead of cutting it lose."

The Rays filled in well with Archer's early departure as four relievers threw shutout baseball. Chris Mazza, called up earlier in the day to replace Nelson Cruz when Cruz went on the Covid list, threw an impressive 1 1/3 innings, and Josh Fleming earned his first save.

It was Mazza's ninth call-up this season.

The Rays found Mazza in Fort Myers, where he was fishing on a pond with his brother-in- law.

"We really threw our first line in," Mazza said. "It's a good thing I had my phone next to me. I got here as quick as I could. The game was in the second inning."

The Rays' got three RBI from Austin Meadows, who now has 88 RBI on the season. He's hitting .318 with runners in scoring position.

Francisco Mejia also had three RBI with a bases-clearing triple in the sixth.

Wander Franco had two doubles and stretched his on-base streak to 24 games, most in the majors.

The Rays are off today and play in Philadelphia Tuesday at 7:05 p.m. Drew Rasmussen will pitch for the Rays.

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