The Tampa Bay Rays hope to respond Friday night in Anaheim, as they open a three-game series against the Los Angeles Angels. The Rays are coming into California in the midst of a mini funk. They lost their final two games in a three-game series against the Rangers by scores of 10-9 and 6-4 in Texas. The Rays got too comfortable following a 5-3 win in the opener.
This was on the heels of a six-game winning streak for the Rays. They were also 11-1 in their previous twelve games, so the Rays were scoring hot. It was unrealistic to believe that they were just going to keep winning that pace. However, they must avoid a massive thud now.
Despite the nice run they went on, the Rays are barely clinging on to a spot in the postseason in the American League. They’re trying to fend off the Indians for the final wildcard. Currently, the Rays hold a half game advantage over the Indians and are a half game back of the Athletics for homefield in the Wild Card Game. Without that 11-1 run by the Rays, they are not in the postseason right now, though.
Variance can be an ugly thing for a team and the Rays are hoping that the last two games aren’t a greater sign to come. This series on the west coast in Anaheim is incredibly important. By the end of the weekend, they could be looking at the postseason from the outside, in possession of the final wildcard, or have homefield advantage over the Indians or Athletics.
There’s a lot going on and it should make for an exciting finish. Charlie Morton hopes to keep the fireworks to a minimum for the Angels tonight. He got torched a few games ago, though has managed to settle down fortunately. Five-year Angel, Andrew Heaney, is expected to counter for the Angels. Head below for our free Rays vs. Angels pick.
Tampa Bay Rays vs. L.A. Angels Pick:
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The best pitchers in baseball know how to put solid performances together after season lows. It’s very hard to avoid a bad spot here and there, and Charlie Morton found out the hard way recently against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid. Morton was pummeled against his former team for 6 earned runs in a 15-1 loss.
Instead of sticking it to his old club, Morton was all over the place. He may have gone into that one feeling a little too excited and it just resulted in a lack of control. His head wasn’t clear that’s for certain.
Morton was able to prove that it wasn’t a prelude to worse to come. He got right back in the saddle and neutralized the Indians in a nice outing. Morton held them to 4 hits and 1-run in 5.1 innings of work. He was respectable in his next start, leading the Rays to a 5-3 win over the Blue Jays at the Trop.
Morton surrendered 3 earned runs in 6 innings in that one. He’s been efficient against the Angels in his career, as they’ve hit .224 against him in 143 at-bats. The Angels got to him for a 5-3 win in his most recent appearance against them, though.
Andrew Heaney is average, but the Angels are pretty comfortable knowing what kind of performance they are going to get from him. Being consistently average on the bump is going to have to change in Anaheim soon, but for a guy like Heaney, he can carve out a nice career by pitching for par.
Heaney posted an ERA of 4.15 last season and has a 4.30 ERA going into tonight. He owns an ERA of 4.24 and 1.29 WHIP in his last three outings, along with a 4.47 ERA and 1.31 WHIP at home. Vanilla across the board for Heaney.
However, his last two outings have been anything but vanilla. They’ve looked a bit rancid, as Heaney has allowed 8 earned runs in his previous 11 innings on the hill. Fortunately, the offense saved him in an 8-7 win against the White Sox, but he didn’t get the same in a 4-3 loss vs Boston.
He might be average tonight, but I don’t think that’s going to be good enough Morton on Friday night. The Rays got the losses out of their system in Arlington and I see them getting back on track in this one with an important win. Happy Friday the 13th everybody!