Albert Pujols and company make their way into the Trop tonight to start a three game set against the 9-7 Tampa Bay Rays. Tampa Bay is coming off of back to back series wins against the Blue Jays and Twins, and look to do some damage to a slumping Angels team. The Rays are now 4-2 in their last six games.
The Angels will throw Ervin Santana (0-3, 6.75 ERA) on the mound to toe the rubber against David Price (2-1, 4.20 ERA) who’s coming off of a 5-2/3 innings pitched victory against the Blue Jays. Santana went 7 IP in his last start against Oakland, where he gave up four runs (all earned) on seven hits, while walking two and striking out five. He is still in search of that elusive first victory of the season. Santana has a 5-5 record with a 5.23 ERA in 12 career starts against the Rays. It bears mentioning that the Rays have had some success against Santana, and I fully see them exploiting what has made him so ineffective this year. Hit him hard, and do so early. No more of this scoring runs in the sixth and after.
On the flip side of things, David Price has averaged 5 IP per game, and looks to extend the amount of innings he’s on the bump tonight. Price’s velocity isn’t down in the least, yet the problem lays in the quality and location of his pitches. Though, according to Price, “Honestly, my stuff right now is better than it’s ever been in my entire life. My fastball velocity, my changeup, my curveball. Everything feels good. I’ve got to get it together, put it together,” his control is what’s lacking. Because of it, he’s throwing more pitches per inning.
He will need to make sure that he has control of his pitching, namely the above three, and is able to locate those pitches…especially considering that he’ll be facing Albert Pujols. In kind with the way Ivan Nova attacked Pujols last week, David Price will need to establish the inside corner (especially high in the zone) to, at most, jam him up and induce weakly hit balls. Or in the very least keep him unsteady, and knock him off of the plate. He’ll then need to attack the outside corner of the plate. Nova was extremely dangerous when he utilized that strategy, and Price is fully capable to do the same…as long as his control is there. It would probably behoove Price to use those secondary pitches to the fullest tonight.
On a side note, around 175,000 people have come to games so far in 2012. That’s an average of 29,000 (and some change) per game. Let’s see if we can keep those numbers up. I’d love to see 25,000 fans in the Trop tonight, yet it’s probably more realistic to hope for 20,000 or so for a game in the middle of the week. According to DRaysBay, “Given the fact the Rays have a .636 winning percentage at Trop since 08, the fact they have 13 of their next 16 games at home is huge.” The starting lineup is below. As always, Let’s Go Rays!
Tampa Bay (9-7) starting lineup, 4/24/12: