The Tampa Bay Rays are stumbling at the wrong time and hope the return of Matt Moore can get them back on track. Moore gets the nod Tuesday in the second test of a four-game road series against the LA Angels.
Moore has been on the disabled list since late July because of left elbow soreness and hasn't pitched since a 6-5 loss at Yankee Stadium on July 28, when he gave up five runs in five innings of a no-decision.
The Rays had won Moore's previous six starts and he is 14-3 with a 3.41 earned run average in 21 starts. Moore has made three career starts against the Angels and is 2-0 with a 1.96 ERA in that time.
"I'm very eager to get back out there. I think a month-plus is a lot longer than I initially thought it was going to be," Moore told the club's website. "So I'm just excited to get back out there and give us a shot to win a game."
Tampa Bay could use a spark and has dropped five straight and eight of its last nine games. In Monday's 11-2 loss at the Big A, Chris Archer continued to struggle since his hot July and was reached for five runs and nine hits in 3 2/3 innings.
"I didn't control the damage very well," Archer said. "Had a lot of two-strike hits. I felt really good. I just wasn't executing when I needed to."
Ben Zobrist homered for the Rays, who currently occupy one of the final two wild card spots in the American League and sit 5 1/2 games off the lead in the AL East.
The Angels, meanwhile, look to continue to play spoiler and have won five in a row and nine of 10 games.
Garrett Richards worked around seven walks and allowed two hits and a run in five innings for the win on Monday. He was aided by a five-run sixth inning to pull within a win of the .500 mark (5-6).
"My control was to say the least a little off. I have to get back to pounding the zone. We got the win and that's the most important thing," Richards said.
Erick Aybar recorded a two-run homer and added a two-run triple, while J.B. Shuck and Mike Trout finished with two hits and two runs scored. Andrew Romine produced three hits and Josh Hamilton was 1-for-5 with an RBI and a double for the Angels.
Hamilton made his return to the lineup as the designated hitter and had been bothered by shoulder pain, which caused him to miss L.A.'s weekend series with Milwaukee.
Jason Vargas draws the start for the Halos Tuesday and he is 8-5 with a 3.54 earned run average in 18 starts. Vargas has won back-to-back trips to the mound and hurled seven scoreless innings of two-hit ball in last Thursday's 2-0 win at Tampa Bay.
Vargas, a left-hander, is 5-1 in nine home starts and 3-3 with a 2.74 ERA in eight career meetings (7 starts) with the Rays. Vargas is 8-2 with a 3.08 ERA in his last 13 starts and the Angels are 9-4 in that span. He was 0-3 in his first five starts this season.
Tampa was 9-1 against the Angels last season.