Chris Archer has a chance to match his career-high win total before June ends. With the season he's having, there's a strong possibility the Tampa Bay right-hander will have some more prestigious personal accomplishments headed his way.
The Rays try to avoid a second consecutive series loss Sunday when Archer puts his personal six-game win streak on the line against the Boston Red Sox.
With Matt Moore, Alex Cobb, Drew Smyly and Jake Odorizzi on the disabled list, Tampa Bay (42-34) desperately needs Archer to lead its patchwork rotation. After showing flashes of brilliance in his first two full seasons, Archer (9-4, 2.01 ERA) has picked an opportune time to break out as one of baseball's best pitchers.
He leads the league in ERA and ranks among the leaders in strikeouts (123), innings (103) and opponent batting average (.198). Archer has gone 6-0 with a 1.61 ERA in nine starts since his last loss on May 7. He's walked 10 and struck out 73 in that span.
The first-place Rays have won eight of those nine games. He allowed one earned run or fewer for the 10th time in 16 starts Tuesday, limiting Toronto to three hits over eight innings in a 4-3 victory.
He drew high praise from Blue Jays starter R.A. Dickey after that game.
''Chris is going to be good for a very long time. He's one of the best pitchers, not just in the American League, but the whole league,'' Dickey said.
The Red Sox (33-43) are one of the few teams that have been a problem for Archer, who is 1-5 with a 5.18 ERA in eight meetings. He did, however, hold Boston to an unearned run over 5 2-3 innings while striking out nine in a 1-0 loss on April 21.
Tampa Bay received yet another strong outing from a starting pitcher Saturday, as rookie Matt Andriese and three relievers combined on a three-hitter in a 4-1 victory. Evan Longoria, Jake Elmore and Rene Rivera all homered to help the Rays avoid their first three-game skid this month.
The three home runs matched the team's total from the previous six games.
Tampa Bay's rotation leads the AL with a 3.05 ERA, posting a 1.84 mark over the past 10 games.
Boston, which owns a league-worst 4.45 ERA, has received quality starts in the first two games of this series, but getting another could be difficult with Justin Masterson on the mound after he spent six weeks on the disabled list with right shoulder tendinitis.
Masterson (2-2, 6.37) hasn't pitched since allowing six runs over 2 1-3 innings in a 9-2 loss at Oakland on May 12. He hasn't won since April 20 and is 0-2 with a 13.50 ERA in his past two outings.
The right-hander dropped to 2-7 with a 7.16 ERA in 11 starts against the Rays after he was reached for four runs, seven hits and six walks while failing to escape the fifth in a 5-3 loss on May 6.
Longoria hit one of his two homers off Masterson in that game and is 8 for 25 lifetime in this matchup. He's batting .393 with three home runs and four doubles in his last seven against Boston.
David Ortiz, Pablo Sandoval and Mike Napoli are a combined 14 for 84 (.167) with two RBIs this season against the Rays.