After winning just one of three in Arlington, the Tampa Bay Rays make their way to Anaheim, where they will begin a three-game series against the Los Angeles Angels, on Friday. The Angels were swept by Cleveland leading into the series.
It was a rather inauspicious, if not disappointing, way to start the penultimate road trip of the season, dropping a series to the previously sub .500 Rangers. Even though the offense averaged 6.33 runs per game over the life of the series, the pitching staff allowed five or more runs in each of the final two contests against a team with a negative run differential. The Rays received a total of just four innings from Brendan McKay, Andrew Kittredge, and Jalen Beeks the last two days, adding pressure on the staff of relievers, even with expanded rosters.
Meanwhile, the Angels have gone without Cam Bedrosian, Justin Upton, Mike Trout (right foot nerve issue), and Shohei Otani (knee surgery), and it has shown. Los Angeles scored all of five runs over the last three games, and have won just two of the last 10. Over the last 14 days, the Angels have slashed a combined .222 BA/.310 OBP/.397 SLG/.707 OPS line with just an 87 wRC+. What’s more, the Angels have scored four runs or more in seven of their last 15.
Because of the losses, Tampa Bay can no longer claim the top AL Wildcard spot. The Rays also enter Anaheim 1/2 game behind Oakland and with a 1/2 game edge over Cleveland for the final playoff spot. A series win — or dare I say a series sweep — is crucial, especially since the Rays will make their way to Los Angeles for a two-game series against the Dodgers after this one wraps up.
At this point in the season, the Angels have nothing left to play for but pride, or to be spoilers…something they were incapable of doing against Cleveland. Can the Rays bounce back against Anaheim and remain relevant in the postseason chase?
The Rays split a four-game series against the Angels at Tropicana Field the last time the two teams met, in May.
Kevin Cash will throw Charlie Morton (14-6, 3.11 ERA), Tyler Glasnow (6-1, 2.15 ERA), and Ryan Yarbough (11-3, 3.51 ERA) over the next three days. Brad Ausmus will counter with Andrew Heaney (4-4, 4.30 ERA), Jaime Barria (4-8, 6.14 ERA), and Patrick Sandoval (0-3, 5.28 ERA).
Charlie Morton struck out 10 while allowing three runs on five hits with two walks across six innings against the Blue Jays on Saturday. Morton collected 10 strikeouts for the third time in his last six outings, giving him 45 in 33-1/3 innings. The right-hander remains one victory shy of tying a career-high. He enters the series 14-6 with a 3.11 ERA, a 1.10 WHIP, and 219 strikeouts across 176-1/3 innings this season. Morton is 3-1 with a 4.31 ERA in eight career starts against the Angels.
Andrew Heaney allowed four runs on six hits across six innings against the White Sox on Saturday. He struck out eight. Heaney ran into trouble in the first and in the fifth innings, although he allowed just a single baserunner in his other four frames. The southpaw has had on and off shoulder and elbow trouble this season, yet he appears to be hitting his stride as the season down the stretch. Since returning from the IL on August 10, Heaney has posted a 3.28 ERA with a 7.67 K/BB across 35-2/3 innings. Heaney is 0-2 with a 2.65 ERA in three career starts against Tampa Bay. Key Matchups:
Tyler Glasnow allowed two runs on one hit and two walks while striking out five across two innings against the Blue Jays on Sunday. Glasnow hit 99 and 100 mph in his return to the mound and only expected to pitch a couple of innings since returning from the IL Glasnow fanned the first three batters he faced before walking two and allowing a two-run home run in the second inning. On the positive side, the 26-year-old generated six swinging strikes. Glasnow has a 2.15 ERA and 60 strikeouts through nine starts this season.
Jaime Barria allowed two runs on four hits and a walk with two strikeouts across 4-1/3 innings against the White Sox on Sunday. Barria entered after an opener in the first inning and recorded the final out of that frame. He gave up two solo shots in the middle frames, but that’s about all over almost five innings. Barria owns a 6.14 ERA and a 1.42 WHIP with 66 strikeouts in 70-1/3 innings of work (16 appearances) including 10 starts this season. Barria relies primarily on an 84 mph slider and a 92 mph four-seam fastball with little natural movement, while also mixing in an 83 mph worm-killer changeup.
Ryan Yarbrough allowed three runs on three hits and a walk over seven innings while striking out seven on Tuesday against the Rangers. Texas struck for all three of its runs in the fourth inning, with the big blow being a two-run homer by Nick Solak. Yarbrough exited in line for his fourth loss of the season until the Rays tied things up in the top of the eighth. The left-hander will take a 3.51 ERA and a 7.3 K/BB through 128-1/3 innings into the start in the series finale.
Patrick Sandoval gave up three earned runs on five hits over 3-1/3 innings against Cleveland on Monday. He struck out four and walked two in the 6-2 loss. Sandoval didn’t have his best stuff, with most of the damage against him coming on a two-run homer by Jason Kipnis in the second inning. The 22-year-old has a respectable 2.62 K/BB across 29 innings, but his 5.28 ERA is unimpressive. Sandoval is also on a pitch count, so don’t expect him to pitch deeply in the ballgame on Sunday. He relies primarily on a 93 mph four-seam fastball and an 83 mph swing & miss changeup, while also mixing in a 77 mph 12-6 curveball and an 86 mph worm-killer slider.
— It isn’t clear if Kevin Kiermaier (neck spasms) will be back in the lineup. Kiermaier felt better yesterday after multiple chiropractic adjustments.
— Eric Sogard (bruised right foot) has not started in a week after fouling a ball off his foot on Friday.
— Ji-Man Choi reached base in 10 straight plate appearances, setting a franchise record.
— Blake Snell threw two perfect frames for Durham on Thursday, collecting three strikeouts on 28 pitches (19 strikes, 68% strike rate). Snell could appear in the series against the Dodgers.
— Yonny Chirinos will throw a simulated game on Monday, facing Brandon Lowe once again.