Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (14-11) @ Tampa Bay Rays (14-11)
Pitching Probables: LAA – Ervin Santana (0-3, 5.51 ERA) TB -- David Price (3-2, 3.19 ERA)
Game Info: 4:10 PM PT; TV - Fox Sports West; Radio - KLAA 830 AM
What is up with this schedule? Wasn't it just a couple of weeks ago that the Angels played Tampa Bay in a two game set before having to fly all the way across country to have their home opener? Now they are back in the sun belt for a three game series before four more with the Red Sox? So by this time next week the Halos will have played more games against the AL East then the West and a total of 8 games vs. the Sox and 5 against the Rays. I feel like this sort of brutal opening to the season may have repurcussions later in the season. On top of that we now get the Rays as they are starting to hit and the pitching is starting to solidy as opposed to the last time we visitied when Tampa still had the two juicer Manny Ramirez and his below the Mendoza line batting average to take advantage of. No such luck this time out.
I have a feeling that this next road trip will give us a really good idea what to make of this year's team. The Rays are the Angels 2.0 in many ways. Joe Maddon took Scioscia's blueprint and applied it to a team with actual talent and the results have been outstanding. The Rays run the bases, are agressive in the box, play good defense and have lights out pitching. And now they are getting hot just as the Angels visit the Trop. Meanwhile the Angels are still tryign to see how many midget infielders can play at once. Here is my interpretation of Mike's dream line-up: Kendrick (1B), Amarista (2B), Aybar (ss), Itzuris (3b) which yields a combined height of about Andrew Bynum. Seriously, if I was the opposing team I would practice hitting balls that are about 6 feet off the ground and you would probabaly be okay.
Monkey See, Monkey Do Expect Ervin Santana to pitch better than he has the last two times out . I am aware that I said that last weekend and old Ervin crapped the bed against Boston but call me an optimist, I think Ervin will figure it out this time around. Santana needs a good start and he tends to get up for premier pitching match ups. David Price can be a shutdown lefty and has the potential to make this a low scoring affair, so Santana has to match him goose egg for goose egg. Santana has always had the stuff to be an ace, but has lacked the mental discipline to be that elite type of pitcher. The Rays line-up has some pop so I worry about the long ball, but if Santana gets into a groove this could be a tight affair settled by the bullpens.
Monkey See, Monkey Don't Do not get to worried about Jordan Walden (who is dire need of a nickname now that he is the closer). Walden will shake off the A's game and return to his wunderkind form. With Downs back and Bulger gone, I think the bullpen will start to take shape. Downs and Rodney become the primary set-up guys depending on the match ups, with Thompson as the swing man if a starter gets into some trouble. That might be a big four I can live with. This will also be a series where the managers may set a record for most moves to spite the other guy as Maddon and Scioscia try to outdo each other.
The Monkey's Bananas Prediction of the Day The Angels need to take two of three here given that the upcoming visit to the Fenway House of Horrors awaits. With Piniero going on Saturday, today's game has a feel of not a must win but a "pretty good idea to win" game. Because of that, Santana pitches well enough to win, Hank Conger has a big game and Walden closes the door for an Angels 4-2 win.