Even though the Tampa Bay Rays fell 3-2 in the finale finale against the Yankees on Sunday, they still were able to walk away with their third consecutive series win. Next they will play host to Mike Trout and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for a four-game series, starting Monday.
Both teams are 6-4 over a 10-game stretch, however, a huge difference between the two is that the Angels aren’t scoring runs and the Rays are — Los Angeles’ -7 and the Rays +21 run differentials speak to that. The Angels’ 8-15 road record certainly doesn’t help. Still, Mike Trout — who is batting .362 (17-47) in 13 career games at The Trop — is Mike Trout, and Cameron Maybin has been hot in the leadoff spot — collecting 11 hits in his last 21 at-bats, with five walks.
Questions continue to swirl around Albert Pujols, who is nursing a tight right hamstring, and whether he will be available for the series. There is the possibility that the Angels could use him as the designated hitter, and in the words of Mike Scioscia:
We’re just going day to day. He felt good this afternoon. We’ll see tomorrow.
As for the Rays, Corey Dickerson continues to rake, collecting a league leading 21 multi-hit games, while Logan Morrison holds the team lead in runs batted in at 31. Boding in Tampa Bay’s favor, the bullpen appears to be turning the corner, with the relievers slashing 3.12 ERA/3.68 FIP/.243 BABIP over the past 14 days and 40-1/3 innings. Compare that will their overall 3.93 ERA/3.86 FIP/.274 BABIP line.
Tthe Rays took the 2016 series with the Angels by a 4-3 margin, however, the Halos have won their last three games at Tropicana Field.
Over the next four days, Kevin Cash will look to Jake Odorizzi (3-2, 3.16 ERA, 4.59 FIP), Alex Cobb (4-3, 3.67 ERA, 3.99 FIP), Erasmo Ramirez (2-0, 3.00 ERA, 3.31 FIP), and Matt Andriese (4-1, 3.75 ERA, 4.76 FIP), Scioscia will counter with J.C. Ramirez (3-3, 3.97 ERA, 3.86 FIP), Matt Shoemaker (3-2, 4.47 ERA, 5.01 FIP), Ricky Nolasco (2-3, 4.01 ERA, 5.39 FIP), and Alex Meyer (2-2, 5.79 ERA, 4.33 FIP).
Odorizzi earned his third win on Tuesday, when he held Cleveland to four runs on seven hits over six innings. The right-hander sailed into the sixth inning with just one run on his ledger, but ended the frame by allowing a two-run home run by Edwin Encarnacion. He was able to finish the inning and wound up with an impressive victory over one of the best teams in baseball.
Ramirez took a no-decision in his last start after allowing two runs over seven innings against the ChiSox. He was used exclusively as a reliever in the majors until recently, and has tossed two scoreless innings in two career relief appearances against Tampa Bay. Ramirez boasts a 94-97 mph fastball with release-side run (and just a 4.4% SwStr% on the season), an 87-90 mph slider that gets a fair number of swings-and-misses, and a 12-6 curveball with a bunch of late break that coaxes grounders from opposing batters. Key matchups: Peter Bourjos (1-2), Michael Martinez (1-2, 2B), Derek Norris (1-1, HR, 3 RBI), Steven Souza Jr. (1-1)
Cobb has delivered quality starts in his last four starts, allowing just eight earned runs over his last 27-1/3 innings. His changeup hasn’t returned to pre-surgery form, which has been well documented, but he’s effectively worked the fastball-curve combo.
Shoemaker notched his third win of the season on Wednesday after allowing four runs (three earned) over 6-1/3 innings against the ChiSox. In 2017, he has relied primarily on an 85 mph splitter with a ton of backspin that results in an above average number of fly balls, a 92 mph four-seam fastball, an 83 mph slider, and a 92 mph sinker. Shoemaker is undefeated in three career starts against the Rays, going 3-0 with a 2.60 ERA. Key matchups: Michael Martinez (1-3), Logan Morrison (4-11, 2B, HR, RBI, BB), Derek Norris (3-5, BB), Colby Rasmus (6-19, 2B, HR, 2 RBI, BB)
Ramirez continues to have success whether he’s in the starting rotation or coming out of the bullpen. He gave up just two runs in 5-1/3 innings, throwing just 65 pitches (48 strikes) in his first start back — a no-decision against New York.
Nolasco held the Mets to two runs (one earned) over six innings, en route to a hard luck loss. The 34 year-old right-hander has favored his has relied primarily on his 82 mph worm-burner of a slider, a 91 mph fly ball coaxing sinker, and a rather pedestrian 92 mph four-seam fastball. He also mixes in am 82 mph splitter from time to time, and a 74 mph knuckle curveball. In nine career starts against Tampa Bay, he has gone 3-6 with a beefy 6.57 ERA. Key matchups: Evan Longoria (5-19, 2 2B, HR, 3 RBI, BB), Logan Morrison (1-3, 2B), Colby Rasmus (2-7, BB), Steven Souza Jr. (1-3, 2B), Rickie Weeks Jr. (11-24, 2B, 3B, 2 HR, 4 RBI, BB)
Andriese battled through his second consecutive start, going five-plus innings and giving up five runs on six hits against the Yankees. He, however, is 3-0 in his past four outings. He looks to regress back to his previous, efficient form in the series finale on Thursday.
Meyer delivered an uneven performance against New York on Saturday, allowing four runs (three earned) while walking four, and fanning seven over four-plus innings. The 27 year-old rookie has never faced the Rays, and relies primarily on his 97 mph four-seam fastball with natural sinking action, a 97 mph sinker with good tailing action that results in a good number of fly balls, and a hard knuckle curveball.