MLB

Rays-Tigers Preview

The early season numbers of Chris Archer and Jordan Zimmermann provide a perfect contrast. Their recent performances don't bear much resemblance to each other's, either.

As Archer looks to continue his turnaround, Zimmermann tries to recapture his previous success when his Detroit Tigers host the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday.

After being hit hard in four losses to begin the season, Archer (3-4, 4.38) has regained the form that made him one of the AL's premier pitchers in 2015. The Tampa Bay ace has gone 3-0 with a 2.43 ERA over his last five starts, throwing five scoreless innings at Toronto on Tuesday after allowing a two-run homer to Jose Bautista in the first.

''Being able to pitch five scoreless innings after how it started is something I can hang my hat on,'' said Archer, who posted a 7.32 ERA during the losing streak.

Zimmermann (6-2, 2.45) has endured an opposite kind of reversal. The free-agent addition has posted a 5.32 ERA over a three-start stretch after opening his Detroit tenure with five straight wins and 24 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings.

Despite halting a two-start skid and striking out a season-high nine Monday, Zimmermann wasn't sharp in a 10-8 victory over Minnesota. Boosted by an eight-run first inning, he was reached for seven earned runs and 11 hits in seven innings.

''It wasn't the prettiest game I've ever pitched,'' said Zimmermann, who entered with a 1.50 ERA. ''It was crazy, but we survived.''

The Tigers have certainly supported their pitchers of late, batting .327 with 11 homers and scoring 33 runs as Detroit (20-22) has won five of six.

The club homered three times in Saturday's 5-4 win, with James McCann's two-run shot in the seventh inning snapping a 1-all tie.

J.D. Martinez went deep for the fourth time in six games and Cameron Maybin hit his first home run of the season while finishing 3 for 4. Maybin is 11 of 17 in five games since returning from a fractured left wrist.

Detroit's big bats have been held mostly in check by Archer, who sports a 2.08 ERA in four career meetings and struck out 11 in seven innings of a hard-luck 2-1 defeat July 29. Victor Martinez is 1 for 9 against him and Ian Kinsler 1 for 15 with six strikeouts, while Miguel Cabrera has two singles in eight at-bats.

Archer won't have one of most valuable defenders behind him for the finale of this three-game set, as Gold Glove center fielder Kevin Kiermaier fractured his left hand attempting to make a diving catch Saturday.

''My glove kind of caught the ground and made my hand go a way that it's never gone before,'' he said. ''It's just really unfortunate. I was really starting to feel good at the plate.''

After scoring 38 runs and homering 10 times in winning the first four of this road trip, Tampa Bay (20-20) was held to six hits and struck out 15 times Saturday.

Evan Longoria did connect for a solo home run to extend his hitting streak to nine games. He's hitting .342 over the run.

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