After enduring a season-worst seven straight losses, the Tampa Bay Rays are picking up positive momentum again as they battle to remain atop the American League East.
The Rays look for their fourth consecutive victory on Saturday afternoon when they host the Los Angeles Angels in the second contest of a three-game set in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Austin Meadows and Kevin Kiermaier each had three hits to propel the Rays to a 4-3 win over the Angels on Friday.
The Angels lost their fourth in a row despite another power display from phenom Shohei Ohtani, who belted a homer that was estimated to travel 453 feet in the first inning. It was Ohtani’s career-high 24th homer of the season.
“There’s no way that’s 453, I’m sorry,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “I’ve been here many times and I’ve never seen that in a game or in batting practice.”
Meadows drove in two of the Rays’ three runs in the bottom of the inning. The Rays prevailed after Brandon Lowe was hit by a pitch from Steve Cishek with the bases loaded in the seventh.
“This is now back-to-back nights where you don’t think you’re going to win games on a wild pitch and a hit by pitch, but we will take it,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said.
Tampa Bay will send rookie left-hander Shane McClanahan (2-2, 4.03 ERA) to the mound on Saturday to face one of its former starters in right-hander Alex Cobb (5-2, 4.41).
McClanahan struck out a career-high eight over six innings in his most recent outing Sunday against Seattle. McClanahan gave up one run (a solo home run by Luis Torrens) and walked one while allowing three hits in a no-decision.
“It was a really good one, that’s for sure,” Cash said after that start. “Deepest and most efficient. He just really attacked the zone well. The stuff played up. He did a very nice job.”
McClanahan, who is 0-2 in his four June starts, faced the Angels for the first time on May 4 in Anaheim. He scattered two hits over four scoreless innings while striking out five batters in an 8-3 win by Tampa Bay.
During that same outing, Cobb took the loss after surrendering two unearned runs, walking five and striking out six over five innings.
Cobb, who went 48-35 while pitching for the Rays his first six seasons in the majors, has yet to defeat his former team. He is 0-5 in seven career starts against Tampa Bay while compiling a 3.76 ERA over 38 1/3 innings.
Cobb, however, has won his past four decisions overall.
In his last start on June 18, Cobb gave up one unearned run on three hits, struck out eight and walked two over 5 2/3 innings in an 11-3 win over the Detroit Tigers.
Maddon said Mike Trout (right calf strain) is trending in the right direction, but still not expected back until after the All-Star break.
“He’s going to get to the point very soon of getting more active physically regarding testing things,” Maddon said. “Everything is going well, so we’re all excited about that.”
The Angels placed Justin Upton (right low back strain) on the 10-day injured list.
–Field Level Media