The Red Sox may not have been able to do much with Chris Archer’s slider tonight that helped the Tampa Bay hurler to 11 strikeouts, but their patience at the plate could have given them the edge to take this game, as Archer was pulled from the game after the sixth, throwing a career-high 119 pitches.
Archer’s final line on the night was six innings pitched, allowing no runs on four hits with four walks and 11 strikeouts.
Although Archer struck out the side in the third inning, the Sox had drove his pitch count up to 66, far greater than manager Joe Maddon would have preferred his young hurler throw the get the first nine outs of the game.
The Red Sox worked six three-ball counts off Archer in the first four frames, with Dustin Pedroia drawing two walks and Grady Sizemore getting a hit and a walk. Archer had thrown 84 pitches after retiring Jackie Bradley Jr. to end the top of the fourth, and it took him 19 more to get through the fifth, bringing his total up to 103. He came back out for the sixth, and shut the Sox down 1-2-3 on 16 pitches to finish with 119, surpassing his previous career-high of 112.
Archer has had pitch count issues in the past: he’s thrown over 100 pitches now in five of his last six outings, but in that span has gotten through the sixth inning only twice. The Red Sox will need to take advantage of the Rays’ bullpen that will have to be stretched through the final three innings – and maybe more if the game goes the same as the first six did.