The Rays knew they had a tough task coming into this series. The Angels are one of the two hottest teams in baseball, and much of that credit goes to 20-year-old phenom Mike Trout, who is one of the AL's most (if the not the most) valuable players, and as a rookie no less. Add that to the fact that Pujols has finally proved that he is still one of the best hitters this game has ever seen, and the rotation of Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, CJ Wilson, and now Zack Greinke (who was just acquired), and you have a frightening team on paper.
Alex Cobb (in his second start since coming back from that line drive incident) looked like he was going to have himself a very economical outing; not a high amount of strikeouts, but would get the job done. Jeff Keppinger has been on fire all season, posting a line of .330/.399/.455. His solo homer to left field in the second inning got the Rays out in front, and through the first two innings of Cobb's night, it looked like another two runs would be sufficient enough to get the win.
Albert Pujols, however, had a different idea in mind. On a 1-1 count, Cobb left a pitch right in Pujols' happy zone, and Pujols drilled a double in the gap, scoring the speedy Mike Trout and Torii Hunter. Cobb would end up surrendering 8 hits, and was tagged for another run when stud slugger Mark Trumbo singled home Pujols to make it 3-1 later in the inning.
Despite the fact that the Rays struck first, Dan Haren did his job of shutting the Rays' offense down from that point on. Haren struck out 6 in 6 innings of work, and really gave the Rays fits with his go-to pitch, the splitter. He [Haren] has always been the type of pitcher to be on or off; if he's on, then your team will be lucky to even score two runs. This was the case tonight, as his only blemish was Keppinger's solo shot in the second, and he looked dialed in after that point.
Once again the Rays' offense handed them another loss, despite another quality start from their starting pitchers.
The Rays fall to 51-49 on the season. They drop to 3.5 games out of a playoff position and 9.5 games behind the Yankees in the AL East.
Notable Stat Lines:
- A. Cobb(TAM): 3 ER, 8 H, 3 K, 0 BB through 7.0 IP
- J. Keppinger(TAM): 3-4, solo HR
- A. Pujols(LAA): 3-4, 2B, 2 RBI
Rays News and Notes:
- Plenty of recent Rays trade rumors involving James Shields and Wade Davis; MLBTradeRumors.com has you updated on everything.
- Longoria update: Evan Longoria said he felt good after his second rehab game with Triple-A Durham Friday. He went 0-3 with a walk.
- The Rays sold 1B/DH Brandon Allen to a Japanese ballclub.
- Jeff Niemann (broken leg) felt good after throwing 50 pitches in his third bullpen session.
- Matt Moore (6-7, 4.23) takes on C.J. Wilson (9-6, 2.89) tonight as the Rays try to even the series; 9:05 ET first pitch.