The Angels need their mid-season trade for Zach Greinke to start paying dividends today as Los Angeles looks to avoid a sweep in the final chapter of their four-game set with the Tampa Bay Rays at Angel Stadium.
Los Angeles continued its ugly slump on Saturday as it blew an early 8-0 lead before eventually losing 10-8. The Angels came out swinging to build the early advantage. Mike Trout had three RBI and the team had 15 hits by the third inning before it all fell apart.
Ben Zobrist drove in three runs while Sam Fuld and Desmond Jennings had an RBI apiece in the fifth inning. Also in the fifth inning, Evan Longoria hit his second home run of the series to make it a one-run game. Carlos Pena broke an 8-8 tie with a two-run home run in the eighth to give Tampa Bay the very special road victory.
"It's definitely disappointing, there's no doubt about it," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "You can't lose leads like that and get where you want to be. Afterwards, I think the guys cleared some things in the air and feel good about moving forward, and hopefully we're going to get into a little bit better place here."
The loss was the sixth in eight games for the Angels, who now sit 3 1/2 games out of an American League Wild Card spot. Saturday's defeat was particularly disheartening as C.J. Wilson gave up seven runs on six hits in 4 2/3 innings just a day after Jered Weaver endured one of the worst starts of his career.
Scioscia will hope that the team's most recent addition can create some momentum. Greinke, who won the 2009 AL Cy Young Award, has not been thriving since being traded to the Angels. The right-hander has given up at least four runs in three of his four games since being traded to the club from Milwaukee on July 27. He did manage to pick up his first win wearing a Los Angeles uniform in Tuesday's 9-6 win over Cleveland.
Overall Greinke is 1-1 with a 5.54 ERA in four starts with his new club. Matt Joyce is the only Rays player with 10 or more at-bats against Greinke to have found success against the starter. Joyce is 5-for-13 with a home run in his career versus Greinke, but B.J. Upton is just 4-for-19 with eight strikeouts and Carlos Pena is 7-for-39 with 18 strikeouts against him.
The Rays will go with Matt Moore as they try to cap off the four-game series sweep. The lefty had earned a win in three consecutive starts before getting a no-decision after seven innings of action in the club's 3-2 loss to Seattle on Tuesday. He surrendered just one run on six hits while striking out nine Mariners before leaving the contest with a 3.60 ERA.
"Matt did such an unbelievable job today," said teammate Pena after Tuesday's game. "And it hurts because I wanted him to get that win and for the team because we've been playing so well I wanted to keep it going. So it's one of those mistakes that really, really hurts."
Moore is 4-1 with a 1.43 ERA in his six starts since the All-Star break and has not allowed a home run in 52 2/3 innings. The rookie southpaw is 1-0 with a 1.50 ERA in two starts versus Los Angeles this season.
The Wild Card-leading Rays have won 10 of their last 12, which put them five games back of the Yankees in the AL East standings. The pitching staff has a 2.34 ERA over that stretch.
Tampa Bay has won 11 of the last 12 meetings between the teams and leads the season series, 8-1. The Angels have been outscored, 29-11, in the first three games of the series.