6/1/2013 5:25 A.M. ET
Archer's season debut has added twist
By Zack Meisel / MLB.com
CLEVELAND -- There stood Chris Archer, a nervous, awestruck 17-year-old with his dad, watching batting practice at Progressive Field.
The right-handed pitcher had just signed his first baseball contract, agreeing to devote his career to the Cleveland Indians' organization after the franchise selected him in the fifth round of the 2006 First-Year Player Draft.
After he inked his name to the pact, he and his father occupied front row seats for the Indians' contest that day.
On Friday, Archer returned to the ballpark for the first time since that summer day in 2006. On Saturday, he'll square off against the team that drafted him for the first time, as he makes his season debut atop the hill for the Rays.
"This does add a little extra," Archer said about facing Cleveland, "but it's not super over-the-top or anything. I know there are some coaches in the Indians organization who always want to see me succeed and do well, so to come up here and play in front of them is going to be pretty cool."
In his first go-around in the Majors last season, Archer went 1-3 with a 4.60 ERA in six appearances, including four starts. When manager Joe Maddon informed Archer, the Rays' fourth-ranked prospect, he wouldn't be making the big league club out of Spring Training, the skipper told the youngster to improve his fastball command.
Archer obliged, noting that it has been the facet of his game he has conditioned the most while pitching at Triple-A Durham, where he has gone 5-3 with a 3.96 ERA in 10 starts.
"It really comes down to throwing your fastball for a strike," Maddon said. "He has a really good breaking ball, slider, a really good changeup. … Physically, he can compete here. Mentally, he can compete here. His pitch ability needs to increase a little bit."
Beliveau, Colome optioned; Archer brought up
CLEVELAND -- With a bullpen Rays manager Joe Maddon termed "weary," Tampa Bay promoted left-hander Jeff Beliveau to the big league squad and optioned Alex Colome to Triple-A on Friday.
But following Friday's contest that was delayed nearly five hours by three rain delays, Beliveau, who wasn't one of the four Rays pitchers used, returned to Triple-A Durham to make room on the roster for Saturday's starter, Chris Archer.
Colome dazzled in his Major League debut on Thursday, when he limited the Marlins to one unearned run on five hits in 5 2/3 innings with seven strikeouts in a 5-2 victory.
Beliveau's arrival temporarily provided some much-desired insurance for a fatigued crop of relievers. Prior to Friday's affair, closer Fernando Rodney had pitched each of the last four days, and seven of the last 10. Joel Peralta had appeared in five of the team's last six games.
Maddon avoided using Rodney, Peralta and Jake McGee in Friday's contest, as the Rays notched their sixth straight win.
"When you're going well, you're going to utilize a lot of your bullpen to do that," Maddon said. "When you're going poorly, that's when guys get rest. That's how those things tend to work out. We've had a nice little run going."
The Rays acquired Beliveau from the Rangers in mid-April. He made 22 appearances out of the Cubs' bullpen in 2012, when he compiled a 4.58 ERA over 17 2/3 innings.
Maddon loving production from lineup
CLEVELAND -- Sitting above a dugout floor flooded with rain, Joe Maddon became giddy. The manager was asked about the production from his lineup, and he started rattling off a list of players who have contributed to the Rays' recent offensive surge.
"What Kelly [Johnson] has done has been outstanding," Maddon said long before the Rays earned a 9-2 win over the Indians in a game that ended at 2:55 a.m. ET Saturday morning. "Luke Scott has really picked it up. [Yunel] Escobar has had a great month also. [Desmond] Jennings is starting to come back a bit in the sixth or seventh hole."
Since April 17 (entering Friday), the Rays have scored 5.6 runs per game, the top mark in baseball, and rank fourth in the Majors in home runs, third in batting average and second in on-base percentage and slugging percentage.
On Monday, Maddon maneuvered some pieces in the lineup, moving Jennings out of the leadoff hole and into a lower slot, inserting Johnson into the third spot and bumping Ben Zobrist into the No. 1 hole. In the four games since, the Rays have scored 25 runs and the trio of players he rearranged has combined to bat .409 with a 1.168 OPS.
"Up and down the lineup, we've been getting good work out of other guys," Maddon said. "It's wonderful when everybody is contributing like that. That's truly the way you do win big."
• With nine runs in Friday night's/Saturday morning's 9-2 win over Cleveland, the Rays set the second-highest scoring total for a month in team history. The club logged its top mark of 184 runs in May 2009, and scored 166 this month. They scored 163 in Aug. 2008.
• Evan Longoria's 13 doubles are a team record for the month of May, ahead of B.J. Upton's 10 in 2008.