8/29/2014 1:50 A.M. ET
Rays in last place in Majors in turning double plays
By Bill Chastain / MLB.com
BALTIMORE -- Entering Thursday night's game against the Orioles, the Rays had turned just 73 double plays this season -- 17 fewer than any other team and leaving them on pace to turn just 89 for the season.
While the double-play numbers are down, they are more representative of the fact that even though the team fielding percentages aren't bad, plays haven't been made.
"That's why fielding percentage can be deceptive sometimes," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "It's about the plays you don't make that you could have made or should have made. And we've not been good at turning double plays. That's well documented. We've been a little bit short now."
Is there a correlation between the fact the Rays lead the Major Leagues in strikeouts and the lack of double plays?
Rays pitchers are on pace for 1,457 strikeouts, which would break the all-time record of 1,428 set by the 2013 Tigers.
"We've talked about maybe because we strike out so many guys that there has to be some kind of negative bump in turning double plays because you strike out a lot of hitters," Maddon said. "But, for the most part, if you watched us we've been unable to turn double plays often when we should have, and that's been a problem for us. It's not one person's fault. It's everything. It's everybody. And then probably making some plays that we've made in the past and coming up a little bit short."
Archer heads home early to prepare for start
BALTIMORE -- Chris Archer departed for the Tampa Bay area on Thursday afternoon, not hanging around for Thursday night's game against the Orioles.
Archer's travel was nothing unusual. Many times when the Rays are playing a night game and travel home after the game -- without an off-day the following day -- the starting pitcher for the next night's game will leave early. Since Archer is the scheduled starter for Friday night's game against the Red Sox, he headed home early to get a good night's sleep Thursday night.
Archer allowed that leaving separate from his teammates was "a little strange."
"But I'm just happy that the team, the organization knows the importance of getting a good night's sleep for the starting pitcher," Archer said. "I wish that we didn't play a night game. I don't really see the point behind it. Maybe get a couple of extra ticket sales here in Baltimore. Maybe we messed them up one time. I don't know, but I wish that our whole team could get a little rest because the whole season is pretty rigorous."
Even though he won't be on the bench Thursday night, Archer will be watching at home.
"To be honest there's a better view of the game watching on TV from the FOX angle than from the side," Archer said.
Longoria changes approach, improves at plate
BALTIMORE -- Evan Longoria had three hits Wednesday night and hit a homer in his first at-bat on Thursday, finishing the seven-game road swing hitting .345 (10-for-29) for the trip.
"I like the way he's getting the bat started, better," Rays manager Joe Maddon said before Thursday's game. "I think it's more what I remembered. ... So I think he's a lot more comfortable. I'm just seeing better bat-head speed in general."
Maddon noted that he's heard a lot about scouts saying Longoria hasn't been using his legs.
"I can't disagree more," Maddon said. "He's trying to push the ball to the other side. When you try to do that, your bottom half is not going to work as if you were hitting the ball straight away or pulling the ball.
"So I think that's more approach. I can understand what they're saying about his bottom half. What I'm hearing is that he's hurt or his bottom's not working as well. I think it's been more of approach. His legs are fine. His bottom half is fine. His approach is different."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.