For a minute there, I was having some sympathy pains for the Rays. They were a very popular pre-season pick to win the AL pennant. Heck, they were my pick to win the World Series. They are a great organization with a great manager and have a great process. They are, generally, great. But this year, so far, they suck. Woe to be a pre-season darling that ends up disappointing. How Angels fans know that pain.
You know what? I don’t feel that bad. I’m more concerned for the Angels winning some games themselves and getting back into contention. Screw the Rays, just one less team to vie for a Wild Card spot. Better luck next year.
Disappointingly, the Angels actually took a few years to build up their record against the Rays, despite them being categorically awful until Joe Maddon arrived. Even then, it wasn’t until 2005 that the Halos dropped their first season series to the Rays. They’ve lost a few season series since, including 2012 when Tampa took nine of ten. Last year though, the Angels want 4-3 against the Rays. Tampa isn’t off to a very good start this year, so they are prime for the taking, which almost certainly means that they will hammer the Halos again.
THURSDAY, 5/15: Tyler Skaggs vs. Erik Bedard
Skaggs hasn’t faced the Rays ever, but he has faced Logan Forsythe who has touched him for three hits, including a double, in five plate appearances. That probably isn’t meaningful since that was Skaggs back when the D’Backs broke him, but a fun situation to monitor nonetheless.
Bedard has been in the AL for a lot of his career but has faced surprisingly few Angels. I suppose that is what happens when he is hurt and/or terrible all of the time. Raul Ibanez can’t hit Bedard, but he sure can draw walks off of him, in other words, he’s done what he has done much of this season for the Halos.
FRIDAY, 5/16: Jered Weaver vs. Chris Archer
Yeesh, Weaver does not do well against the Rays. David DeJesus has a long track record of hurting Weaver. Zobrist, Longoria and Molina have been just as tough, but not over as much of a sample size. From the small sample side, Wil Myers has faced Jered three times and taken him deep twice.
Not a big sample for Archer, but one performance worth noting is that Trout is 4-for-6 against him. That would be a nice little aid for Trout as he looks to bust out of his slump.
I know nothing of Cesar Ramos and he has a few scattered at-bats against Angels in past relief work. Moving on.
SUNDAY, 5/18: Matt Shoemaker vs. David Price
Shoemaker doesn’t even have a relief appearance against a single Ray. One can only assume that he actually will be the starter. The Angels have listed him as such, but it hardly seems set in stone through no fault of Shoemaker’s. Hector Santiago is still making noise but getting his old job back and until he makes a few more relief appearances, I don’t see how that could happen, but stranger things have happened.
Price hit a rough spot in April, but he is coming off of dominating complete game of the Mariners (not like that’s hard, but you see my point). As for his history against the Angels, it has been quite good. Chris Iannetta is the only Halo to ever take him deep, but nobody else with anything resembling a decent sample of experience against Price has hit him well. One match-up to watch is Trout vs. Price. Price is Trout’s anti-Darvish as he has fanned Trout four times in seven plate appearances. Considering how much that Trout has been striking out already, this might not be a fun watch, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be worthwhile.
Scioscia has been doing such a good job of handling the bullpen over the last week that I’m sure he is going to bumble it this series somehow. Maybe it will be a Joe Maddon Jedi mind trick, but I’m predicting a series split in which Angel relievers take both losses and Scioscia take all the blame.
UNOFFICIAL PREDICTION (so don’t hold me to it)
Pictures of the Rays wearing wacky clothing, with wacky hair or holding wacky animals will be shown during each Angels broadcast.