Before the Rays' 6-5 win over the Cubs on Tuesday, Rays manager Kevin Cash shared some advice with Chris Archer. If the situation called for a bunt and the Cubs went into their shift -- moving first baseman Anthony Rizzo next to the pitcher's mound and having him slide even closer to home plate on the pitch -- his starting pitcher should take advantage.
"If Rizzo is in your face and you feel comfortable, fake-bunt [and] slash," Archer recalled his manager saying. "Do it."
Little did they know that exact situation would arrive fourth inning, and it would be part of a crucial sequence that led to the game-winning run.
Trevor Plouffe led off the fourth with the game tied at 1. He hit a grounder to third but it was smoked with a 107.2-mph exit velocity according to Statcast™, which allowed it to sneak past Kris Bryant for a single. Tim Beckham followed with a deep shot to center and the Rays took a 3-1 lead.
Adeiny Hechavarria kept the momentum going with a single that deflected off the mound and Peter Bourjos drew his seventh walk of the season to bring up Archer with two on and nobody out. After a pair of foul bunts to bring the count to 2-2, Archer put the plan into action, showing bunt and pulling back as Lester threw to the plate. He threaded a single to right-center for the first Major League hit of his career.
The improbable knock also scored Hechavarria from third to give Archer his first career RBI.
"They beat our bunt defense. That's the first time that happened all year," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "Everybody does that. It's hard to execute. It's much more difficult to do that than bunt the ball. You've got to give him credit."
The Rays only had one more hit in them from that point on. Fortunately, it was enough.
Steven Souza Jr. doubled to put the Rays up 6-1. The Cubs rallied, plating two in the fifth and two more in the ninth, but the Rays held on to win.
Archer allowed three runs over six innings in the game to pick up his 11th quality start of the year. And while he was pleased with his performance on the mound, he refused to give himself too much credit for his offense.
Standing at his locker amidst a hoard of media after the game, Archer was called the offensive star of the day by a reporter. He playfully interrupted, flashing a sheepish smile as he shot down the praise.
"No I wasn't. No, No. No," Archer said. "Nah, nah, nah. I don't look at it like that."
But even if he did want the credit, it wasn't his alone. After all, the bat he used to break his 0-for-23 career batting line wasn't even his.
"I'm going to frame the bat, and it was Alex Cobb's bat," Archer said. "So that'll always be a funny memory for the family."
Scott Chasen is a reporter for MLB.com based in Chicago. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.