HOUSTON — Tampa Bay's Chris Archer gained a pair of young fans at this year's All-Star game and gave them a shout-out after pitching a one-hitter in a 1-0 win over their father's team on Thursday night.
"I was motivated by Haley and Kaitlin, A.J. Hinch's two daughters, who ever since we took a selfie together at the All-Star game, they've adored me," Archer said before flashing a huge grin. "So I wanted to — I was in their hometown and I wanted to perform well for two of my biggest fans."
Hinch had talked about the affinity his daughters had for Archer all week and said they weren't allowed to root for him against the Astros. Archer, who sent over signed copies of the Baseball America he's on the cover of to the girls, laughed when told of Hinch's comments.
"I'd like to have them ... at least watching every game I throw from here on out because the outcome is good when they're watching," Archer said.
It was Archer's third career shutout and second against the Astros, having also blanked them in 2013. Archer's complete game ends a streak of 154 games without one for the Rays, which was the longest span in the AL. Their last one came when Drew Smyly did it against the Blue Jays on August 22, 2014.
Archer (11-9) retired the final 15 batters, fanning five. Rasmus led off the fifth with a groundball single and was the last runner for the AL West leaders.
"His pitches were low, he was extremely efficient," manager Kevin Cash said. "He was efficient even with the high strikeouts. It was going to be his ballgame."
Archer walked Jose Altuve on four pitches to begin the first. Later, Altuve tried to advance on a pitch in the dirt and was thrown out. That was Archer's only walk.
"He was in complete control," Hinch said. "He's the real deal. He's got every pitch and he had it tonight. I don't know if that was his best because I'm not around him on a day-to-day basis. But it's the best we've seen and certainly he was in total command. His first four pitches were his worst four pitches After that, he was very dominant."
In his previous start, Archer allowed 11 hits and eight runs in 5 1-3 innings of a 12-4 loss to Texas. Cash thinks he had a little something extra on Thursday because of that start.
"He takes a lot of pride in every five days going out there and giving us an opportunity to win, and by knowing what he says and what he's about, he was definitely motivated simply because he expects a lot of himself to help this team," Cash said.
Desmond Jennings got two hits for Tampa Bay and drove in the lone run with a single in the fourth off Collin McHugh (13-7).
McHugh yielded five hits in seven innings of his second straight loss.
This was the ninth start this year Archer hadn't allowed a run, which tops the AL.
Archer reached the 200-strikeout mark for the first time in his career when he fanned Altuve in the fourth. Archer ended the night with 205 — he joined Scott Kazmir, David Price and James Shields as the only pitchers in franchise history with 200 Ks in the a season.
"There's really no better feeling than when you accomplish your goals and it happens so infrequently that it's very exhilarating," Archer said.
McHugh escaped a bases-loaded jam in the third. Logan Forsythe singled with one out in the fourth and moved up on a wild pitch with two outs. The Rays took a 1-0 lead on the single to center field by Jennings.
Rays: Reliever Jake McGee will have surgery on his left knee Friday and could miss the rest of the season. The Rays said McGee is expected to miss from six to eight weeks. The regular season ends on Oct. 4. McGee was injured on Tuesday night and an MRI on Thursday that revealed a meniscus tear in his knee.
Astros: George Springer (broken right wrist) could take batting practice early next week. There isn't a timetable for the return of the outfielder, who has been out since July 1.
Rays: LHP Smyly opposes Oakland's Chris Bassitt when the Rays open a three-game series with the Athletics. It will be Smyly's second start since returning from a more than three-month stint on the disabled list because of a torn labrum in his shoulder. He allowed seven hits and five runs in just four innings in his last start, a 5-3 loss to Texas.
Astros: Mike Fiers will face Los Angeles LHP Brett Anderson when the Astros open a three-game interleague series with the Dodgers. It will be the third start for Fiers since a trade from Milwaukee.