Chris Archer should know his way around Tropicana Field, but playing for the visiting side just isn’t the same.

Archer will be the starting pitcher for the Minnesota Twins when they take on the Tampa Bay Rays in Saturday’s game in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Upon arriving from his Florida home for Friday night’s series opener, he found out some rules don’t apply to members of the “other team” around the Rays’ park.

“I actually pulled into the players’ lot,” Archer said. “They were like, ‘The visiting team doesn’t park in the players’ lot.’ “

Archer will aim to put the Twins back on track after their seven-game winning streak ended in Friday night’s 6-1 loss in the series opener.

The Rays have won three in a row and five of their last six games. They received the first home runs of the season from Josh Lowe and Mike Zunino on Friday night. It was Lowe’s first career homer, so that might be a spark that helps catapult the rookie.

“Certainly happy for Josh Lowe,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “He needed that to feel good.”

Archer pitched for parts of seven seasons with Tampa Bay to begin the major league portion of his career. There were two seasons with Pittsburgh, an inactive 2020 and then he returned to the Rays last season. But that ended up being just for an injury-reduced six games, posting a 1-1 record.

Archer (0-0, 3.18 ERA) will make his fourth start of the season. He went three innings Sunday against the Chicago White Sox in what he described as an initially short outing “from a workload standpoint. I was hoping to get a little more than what I did.”

Saturday’s start will mark his first game on the visiting side in the Tampa Bay stadium. He appreciates what the Rays have meant to his career.

“It was cool to be with the team during the transition period and then come back whenever the expectation was (that) it’s playoffs or bust,” Archer said.

Not to be overlooked is Tampa Bay starter Shane McClanahan (1-1, 2.45 ERA).

McClanahan also will have a tough act to follow. Three pitchers combined on a three-hitter in Friday’s game, marking the second time in a week that the Rays allowed three or fewer hits.

The Rays became healthier with Zunino back in the lineup for the first time since Tuesday. He had been out with an arm injury. Tampa Bay is still a bit short-handed behind the plate as catcher Francisco Mejia remains on the COVID-19 injured list.

The Rays claimed left-handed pitcher Ben Bowden off waivers from the Colorado Rockies on Friday, but he won’t likely be available this weekend. He was assigned to Triple-A Durham.

“Certainly a guy that we want to take a look at,” Cash said.

The Twins are waiting on the status of first baseman Miguel Sano, who hasn’t played since Tuesday because of a sore knee. But don’t rule him out for Saturday.

“I think he’s getting close to being back,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said.

–Field Level Media