Chris Archer made his homecoming a memorable one.
Pitching just a few miles from where he grew up in Raleigh, N.C., the Rays' No. 4 prospect allowed one run over six innings to earn the win in his Triple-A debut as Durham beat Charlotte, 3-2.
Archer (1-0) allowed three hits and five walks, striking out six.
"All in all, I thought the game was good," Archer said. "After the game, I went up and talked to [MLB.com's No. 3 prospect Matt] Moore. He said, 'I know you're not happy with walking five, but you pitched pretty strong. That just goes to show as you keep getting better, you're going to minimize those walks and pitch deeper into ballgames.' He said to look at positive signs. Me and Moore are pretty good buddies. He can tell me the truth about how he feels."
After tossing a perfect first inning, Archer ran into some control problems in the second. With two outs, he issued three free passes -- including a bases-loaded walk to Jared Price -- and a double to Andrew Garcia. The Knights only managed one run, however, as the 22-year-old right-hander induced a flyout off the bat of Justin Greene to end the inning.
Archer used an analogy from his old coach and current mentor, Ron Walker, to describe the lone blemish on his outing.
"My mentor always tells me, just because an apple has a rotten spot doesn't meant it's a rotten apple," Archer said. "Take that rotten spot out, and it's a perfect apple. After I got out of that jam, that's what I took out of it. I'm not going to let that one third of a tough inning determine how the game's going to go."
Archer had few issues after that point, allowing only four baserunners over his final four innings. He said it felt good to look up in the stands and see some familiar faces, especially considering the weather that they endured to be there.
"It's always good to see those few faces that you know really support you through thick and thin," he said. "They were sitting out there in wind and rain. That's an amazing feeling. It wasn't many people. You have a handful of people that you really want to see, and those people were there."
A fifth-round pick by the Indians in 2006, Archer has been traded twice in his career. He was moved to the Cubs in the Dec. 31, 2008, deal that sent Mark DeRosa to Cleveland, and then to the Rays in the Jan. 8, 2011, exchange that sent Matt Garza to Chicago.
The 6-foot-3 prospect put together a 5.27 ERA through his first 14 starts with Double-A Montgomery but improved greatly in the second half. Over his last 11 outings with the Biscuits, he went 5-4 with a 3.45 ERA, which likely factored into his callup.
"They see the hard work that I've put in from Day One being with the Rays," Archer said. "My numbers may not have necessarily called for a promotion, but the second half of the season I've gotten a lot better, started to turn a corner. To know that they were confident enough to give me that promotion, that says a lot about the Rays as a whole.
"I'm just thankful for [the opportunity] and am going to try to make the most of it. It's only two starts, but it could be two great starts."
Asked what he is working to improve, Archer said his issues are the same as many others.
"I'm working on the same things that probably 90 percent of pitchers in baseball are working on, and that's being more consistent," he said. "It's a common answer, but for me, it's something that I really have to focus on. I'm not trying to overpower on every single pitch, make every pitch on the corner. Being more consistent, trusting my abilities and trusting my stuff."