Los Angeles (1-3) at Tampa Bay (0-3)

Partly Cloudy Currently: St. Petersburg, FL
Temp: 70° F
  • Game info: 6:40 pm EDT Tue Apr 5, 2011
  • TV: KCOP, SUN
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Los Angeles Angels have lost three straight games on their opponent’s final at-bat, due largely to their struggling bullpen.

Their recovery from a disappointing season-opening series may begin in Tampa Bay on Tuesday night, facing an offensively challenged Rays lineup missing Evan Longoria(notes).

The Angels (1-3) had another late-inning collapse Sunday in Kansas City, losing 12-9 as Jason Bulger(notes) allowed a three-run, 13th-inning homer to Matt Treanor(notes).

Fernando Rodney(notes) couldn’t hold a 9-7 lead in the bottom of the ninth, walking the bases loaded and giving up a two-run double en route to his first blown save.

The tough loss spoiled a 5-for-5 day from Bobby Abreu(notes), who hit a two-run homer in the seventh and walked twice in helping the Angels come back from a 5-0 deficit after two innings.

“It’s tough to blame anything that happened today on the offense,” manager Mike Scioscia said. “We scored nine, but you know we had the opportunity to score more. We were 1 for 10 with runners in scoring position.”

The Los Angeles bullpen is 0-3 with a 5.06 ERA and one save. That unit has allowed 19 hits, including five homers, and 13 walks in 16 innings.

“We need to find some chemistry down in the ‘pen,” Scioscia told the Angels’ official website. “We do have some missing pieces, if you want to evaluate it correctly. Some guys who need to throw the ball are not throwing the ball well now.”

The only Angels pitcher to win this season takes the mound as Jered Weaver(notes) (1-0, 0.00 ERA) gets the start. He allowed two hits and struck out six in 6 1-3 innings in a 4-2 opening-day victory over the Royals.

Weaver is 3-1 with a 2.45 ERA in five career starts against the Rays. He’s 4-0 with a 2.63 ERA in his last seven outings in April.

Weaver won’t have to worry about facing Longoria, placed on the disabled list Sunday and expected to miss at least three weeks with a left oblique injury. The absence of Longoria, who had a team-high 104 RBIs last year, could be critical to a lineup which lost Carl Crawford(notes) and Carlos Pena in the offseason.

The sputtering Rays offense scored just one run in each of the first three games in being swept by Baltimore, culminating in Sunday’s 5-1 defeat.

“It’s going to be much more difficult, of course,” manager Joe Maddon said of not having Longoria. “We’re going to have to figure out another way to get this done. It’s just the way the baseball season works sometimes.”

Johnny Damon(notes) was a late scratch due to soreness in his right calf, and his status for Tuesday is uncertain. However, Damon is 4 for 28 with 11 strikeouts and no extra-base hits lifetime against Weaver.

Jeff Niemann(notes) (12-8, 4.39 in 2010) makes his season debut for Tampa Bay (0-3) hoping for a more successful outing than his previous two starts against Los Angeles.

The 6-foot-9 right-hander gave up 15 combined runs in 7 2-3 innings of losses Aug. 25 and Sept. 19. Following that second defeat, Niemann was 2-1 with a 2.70 ERA in his final four games of 2010, including three scoreless innings in the playoffs.

Los Angeles second baseman Howie Kendrick(notes), who homered Sunday, is 5 for 8 with four walks against Niemann.

The Angels won two of three meetings in Tampa Bay last season.

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Starting Pitchers

J. Weaver LAA vs. J. Niemann TB
18-8 Record 11-7
2.41 ERA 4.06
198 K 105
56 BB 37
1.01 WHIP 1.24

Scoreboard

Tuesday, Apr 5