A series win over his former team would mean more to Tampa Bay Devil Rays manager Joe Maddon than just bragging rights. It also would end a lengthy slump.
Tampa Bay (24-34) can secure a rare series win when they meet the Los Angeles Angels (25-32) in the middle game of a three-game set on Tuesday at Tropicana Field.
Maddon, who spent the first 31 years of his baseball career with the Angels’ organization in various capacities before being named Devil Rays manager in November, was not around to see all of a 4-0 victory in Monday’s opener, Tampa Bay’s fourth in a row at home over Los Angeles dating back to last season.
“I was in a pretty good mood up until that moment,” said Maddon, who was ejected in the fifth inning for arguing balls and strikes.
Tampa Bay, which has dropped four consecutive series, is expected to activate second basemen Jorge Cantu from the disabled list.
Cantu fouled a ball off his foot April 7 in Toronto and missed five starts, but played the next 10 games. After hitting .286 with 28 homers and 117 RBIs last year, he is batting .291 with one home run and 11 RBIs this season.
Third baseman Ty Wigginton had two hits in the series opener, and is batting .393 (11-for-28) during a seven-game hitting streak.
Scott Kazmir (7-3, 3.15 ERA) tries to rebound after his shortest outing of the season when he takes the mound to face the Angels for the first time in his career.
The left-hander did not receive a decision in an 8-6 win over Baltimore on Thursday when he pitched two innings and allowed three runs, two hits, and three walks while striking out two before the game was delayed by rain.
He did not return when play resumed.
“We did not want to put Kaz back out there after that long a delay,” Maddon said. “I just did not want to take that chance.”
Kazmir won five straight starts from April 30-May 21 with a 0.78 ERA, but has struggled with a 9.82 ERA in his last two outings. The 22-year-old is 3-0 with a 1.29 ERA at Tropicana Field, holding the opposition to a .184 batting average.
On Monday, the Angels had 11 hits and stranded 12 baserunners—one day after recording season highs in runs, hits and margin of victory in a 14-2 win over Cleveland.
Ervin Santana (4-3, 4.64) looks for his first win in four starts when he takes the ball for Los Angeles. The right-hander allowed four runs, nine hits, struck out three and did not walk a batter over seven innings in a 7-1 loss to Minnesota on Wednesday.
“Ervin didn’t make a lot of mistakes, but he wasn’t able to bring his other pitches into the first inning to try to minimize some damage and they hit some fastballs,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “It all happened so quickly, but then he settled down and pitched well.”
In Santana’s only career start versus the Devil Rays, he gave up seven runs and 10 hits over 3 2-3 innings in a 12-8 loss on Aug. 26.