The Los Angeles Angels haven’t played like one of the best teams in baseball lately. They’re now on the verge of losing a series to the worst team in the majors.
The Angels hope to avoid a second straight loss to the last-place Devil Rays on Wednesday night when the teams continue their three-game set at Tropicana Field.
Although they still lead the AL West, the Angels (55-37) have not been sharp lately. They are 6-10 in their last 16 games, a stretch that has allowed Seattle to close within 2 112 games of them.
Right-hander Ervin Santana’s struggles continued in Tuesday’s series opener, as he allowed seven runs and 14 hits - one shy of the franchise record - in an 8-3 loss.
The Devil Rays’ Ty Wigginton went 4-for-4 for the second straight game to tie a franchise record with eight consecutive hits. Wigginton, who also had four hits during a loss to the New York Yankees on Sunday, matched the Tampa Bay mark held by Aubrey Huff, who had eight straight hits from Sept. 22-24, 2004.
“Honestly, it doesn’t mean much,” Wigginton said. “When you get done playing, I guess maybe you can look back on all this stuff and see some of your accomplishments.”
Tampa Bay (36-56), which won for only the third time in 19 games, needs a victory in this game or on Thursday to win a series against Los Angeles for just the second time in 19 tries.
One problem area lately for the Angels has been a lack of power. They haven’t homered in 10 straight games, a span of 96 innings. The drought is the franchise’s longest since an 11-game stretch without a home run July 7-21, 1991.
The Angels were 2-for-17 (.118) with runners in scoring position Tuesday.
“(James) Shields pitched a good game for them,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said on the team’s official Web site. “We couldn’t get some hits. Some of our guys right now are a little bit out of sync at the plate, and obviously we have to rediscover that continuity.”
Los Angeles hopes Bartolo Colon (6-4, 6.44 ERA) can rebound from a terrible outing. The right-hander lasted only two innings at Yankee Stadium on July 6, allowing seven runs and seven hits. That was the second time in four starts that he surrendered seven runs.
Colon has only one win in his last eight starts overall, and is 4-2 with a 7.81 ERA in eight road outings this season.
He did, however, pitch well against the Devil Rays on April 26, holding them to two runs and four hits in seven innings with a season-high 11 strikeouts.
Colon is 9-1 with a 3.31 ERA in 16 starts against Tampa Bay.
Tampa Bay is expected to get closer Al Reyes back on Wednesday when he is activated from the 15-day disabled list. Reyes has been sidelined since July 3 because of a mild rotator cuff strain.
Scott Kazmir (6-6, 4.18) hopes to build on one of his best starts of the season. The left-hander limited the Yankees to one unearned run and four hits over six innings of a 6-4 victory on Friday. He walked four and struck out seven in his first home win since July 3, 2006, after going 0-4 in his 14 previous starts at Tropicana Field.
Kazmir did not fare well in his only career start against the Angels, yielding seven runs and nine hits in 6 1-3 innings of a 12-2 home loss on June 6, 2006.