Game No. 41: Los Angeles Angels (22-18) vs. Tampa Bay Rays (18-24)

By Jose Serrano

Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Trout entered Thursday night’s game against Tampa Bay hitting .185 over the last week; going 5-for-27 on a six-game road trip. It was forgotten on one swing.

Trout blasted Brad Boxberger’s third pitch into the left field bullpen, securing the Angels’ third straight victory and putting them four games over .500 for the first time since 2012. It was Trout’s first-ever game-winning homer.

Erik Bedard– who signed a minor league contract with Tampa Bay last February- shut out the Angels through five plus before Boxberger and Grant Balfour allowed four runs in the ninth. For the Rays, the loss symbolized how far a consistently dominant pitching staff has stumbled.

Three of Tampa Bay’s five projected starters are on the disabled list, turning one of the most consistent rotations in the American League into a staff strewn together with available parts. Matt Moore is out for the season having undergone Tommy John surgery, Jeremy Hellickson is just starting to throw off the mound following offseason elbow surgery, and Alex Cobb was placed on the 15-day DL with an oblique strain.

The Rays are trying to climb out of the AL East cellar, thanks in large part to a team ERA ranking second-to-last in the division. Meanwhile, the Halos picked up a game on idle Oakland last night and sit 2 ½ games behind the bay area rival.

Pitching MatchupJered Weaver (4-2, 3.22 ERA) vs. Chris Archer (2-2, 5.16 ERA)

His strikeout-to-walk ratio is near a career low and the velocity isn’t there, but Jered Weaver is making his pitches count. After allowing three or more runs through each of his first three outings, Weaver hasn’t allowed more than two since April 18.

Fatigue is also becoming less of a concern. He’s steadily creeping over the 100-pitch mark, tossing 102 in a 4-2 victory over Toronto last Sunday, and hasn’t walked over two batters in his last four outings. Weaver has a 4-3 record and 3.92 ERA against the Rays but hasn’t defeated them since 2011.

Chris Archer walked four batters for the second time this season in a loss to Cleveland last Sunday. He yields a .372 batting average to lead off an inning and a .340 average with runners in scoring position this season. Archer’s carries the same level of successful against the Angels; going 0-1 with a 5.06 ERA in two starts.

Walk offs:

  1. Weaver needs eight strikeouts to eclipse Mike Witt on the team’s all-time list.
  2. The Angels’ .288 opponent batting average is second only to Oakland in the AL.
  3. Trout is the youngest Angel with a walk-off home run since Mark McLemore in 1987.

TV: 7:05 p.m. PT, Fox Sports West, Sun Sports

Radio: KLAA 830, WDAE 620 AM/ 95.3 FM