A day after all 27 batters failed to reach base, the Tampa Bay Rays head to Anaheim for a three-game series against the Angels. Looking to break out of a slump, the Rays would probably prefer a different venue. The team has lost 23 of their last 26 games in Anaheim, including the last five.
While the Rays still boast the best record in baseball at 22-9, their bats have been kept silent of late, hitting just .189 as a team over the last nine games. Tampa Bay is 5-4 in those games, which speaks volumes to how good the starting pitching staff has been.
This year's Angels may need the extra support of playing at home and the added assistance of the Rally Monkey. The team is off to a 14-19 start, the worst in recent memory for Angels fans.
Matt Garza takes the mound in the first game, having already won five games this season. He's struggled against the Angels though, with a 6.46 ERA in three career starts. The Angels counter with Joel Pineiro, who's had similar struggles against the Rays.
Game two is the most intriguing as it features Scott Kazmir, the Rays all-time leader in numerous pitching categories, who was traded to the Angels last season. Kazmir has said it will be weird facing his former team and that he may have a hard time not laughing when some of his buddies, namely B.J. Upton, step up to the plate.
The Rays counter with Jeff Niemann, who's been one of the AL's better pitchers this season. On Wednesday the Rays send David Price, who's off to an even better start, against Angels ace Jered Weaver.
1. Jason Bartlett – SS
2. Carl Crawford – LF
3. Ben Zobrist – RF
4. Evan Longoria – 3B
5. Carlos Pena – 1B
6. B.J. Upton – CF
7. Willy Aybar/Pat Burrell – DH
8. Dioner Navarro/John Jaso – C
9. Reid Brignac/Sean Rodriguez – 2B
1. Erick Aybar - SS
2. Bobby Abreu - RF
3. Torii Hunter - CF
4. Kendry Morales - 1B
5. Hideki Matsui - DH
6. Juan Rivera - LF
7. Howie Kendrick - 2B
8. Brandon Napoli - C
9. Brandon Wood - 3B
TB: M. Garza (5-1, 2.09)
LAA: J. Pineiro (2-4, 5.30)
Batter vs. Pitcher: Carl Crawford has seen Pineiro the most, going 5-for-17 with a home run. Carlos Pena is 2-for-11 with six strikeouts. Kendry Morales in 2-for-2 with a homer off Garza. Hideki Matsui is 1-for-9.
TB: J. Niemann (2-0, 2.23)
LAA: S. Kazmir (2-2, 7.11)
Batter vs. Pitcher: A few of the current Rays have seen Kazmir when they were on other teams. Jason Bartlett is 3-for-7. Matsui has seen Niemann the most and is 1-for-7. Mike Napoli is 3-for-5 with a triple.
TB: D. Price (4-1, 1.91)
LAA: J. Weaver (4-1, 2.66)
Batter vs. Pitcher: Bartlett is 2-for-10 with a homer off Weaver. Evan Longoria is 2-for-5 with two doubles and Crawford is 1-for-9. The Angels haven't seen much of Price. Jeff Mathis is 2-for-4.
-Rays manager Joe Maddon is 1-13 in Anaheim against his former team.
-Former Angel Sean Rodriguez, traded in the Kazmir deal last year, will play against his former team for the first time.
-Tampa Bay was 12-21 against the AL West in 2009, 6-2 this season.
-The Angels went 4-2 against the Rays last season, 3-0 in Anaheim.