Chris Archer might be the most disappointed player in baseball with the calendar flip from July to August.
The Rays starter finished July with a 4-0 record and 0.73 ERA. He finished the month by tossing a two-hit shutout at Yankee Stadium on Saturday.
He'll look to keep up that pace in Friday's series opener against the Giants in St. Petersburg.
Archer's performance represents a trend for the Rays' staff in recent weeks that has led to the club's surge to a neck-and-neck division battle with the Red Sox.
"Right now, it's a combination of me being myself and the information that [pitching coach Jim] Hickey gives me," Archer said. "He tells me what the go-to pitch is for certain hitters. Otherwise, he wants me to pitch to my strengths."
The Rays rotation has tossed seven complete games in their past 20 outings. That number is more than any other team has this season, and no other American League team has more than four. The last team to record seven complete games in a span of 19 games was the 1988 Dodgers, who had eight.
"It's incredible," Archer said. "It just goes to show how important not forcing anything upon anyone is and trusting the decisions made by the people in the organization. At some point in the season, everyone has had doubts about somebody on the starting five. To be where we are, everything worked out as planned."
Meanwhile, Madison Bumgarner will be on the hill for the Giants. He also had an amazing July. Brilliant in two starts since the All-Star break, the left-hander has allowed just one run in his last 15 innings.
Bumgarner has also lasted at least seven innings in each of his past eight starts, including a no-decision in his last outing against the Cubs. He tossed eight innings on Saturday, allowing only four hits and striking out seven.
"I felt really good today," Bumgarner said after the outing. "Everything seemed to be working pretty good. Buster [Posey] caught a great game."
Bumgarner is 6-4 with a 3.25 ERA on the road this season and has never faced the Rays.
Giants: Zito could be bumped from rotation
San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy wouldn't commit to Barry Zito making his scheduled start on Sunday against the Rays.
"I'll have something to announce [Friday] as far as the rotation," Bochy said.
He said Thursday that Zito could be in relief duty that night, but downplayed the development by saying that other starters would also be "live" in the bullpen. Zito did not pitch out of the bullpen in the Giants' 2-1 win over the Phillies.
Zito is 4-8 with a 5.09 ERA in 21 starts this season, including 0-7, 9.97 in nine road assignments. The Giants are 2-8 in the last 10 games started by Zito, who's 0-5 with a 6.66 ERA in that span.
Rays: No team hotter in July than Tampa Bay
• Tampa Bay hopes to extend its July success into August. Before Wednesday's loss to the D-backs, the Rays had won 23 of 27 games, marking the first time a club had won that many in a 27-game stretch since the 2005 Oakland A's went 23-4. Since 2000, only eight teams have accomplished that feat. The Rays enter this series 6-1 at home in Interleague Play this season and 10-2 overall.
• Outside of the stellar starting pitching, rookie Wil Myers has erupted for the Rays' offense. Since the All-Star break, he leads the Majors with a .447 batting average, and his 12 RBIs are one short of the Major League lead. He enters the series against the Giants with a 12-game hitting streak.
• This series marks the first time the Giants have visited Tampa Bay since they lost two of three to the then-Devil Rays in 2004. Overall, San Francisco is 3-3 against the Rays in Interleague Play.
• The Giants have the lowest winning percentage in baseball since May 14, when they traveled to Toronto. San Francisco is just 25-44 (.362) during that time.