Los Angeles (14-11) at Tampa Bay (14-11)

Fair Currently: St. Petersburg, FL
Temp: 78° F
  • Game info: 7:10 pm EDT Fri Apr 29, 2011
  • TV: FSW, SUN
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Tampa Bay Rays are a much different team than the one the Los Angeles Angels faced earlier this month. Ben Zobrist(notes) certainly looks like a different hitter now than he did just a few days ago.

Zobrist and the Rays look for their first six-game winning streak of the season Friday night when they welcome the Angels back to Tropicana Field for a weekend series.

Tampa Bay (14-11) lost to Jered Weaver(notes) and Dan Haren(notes) while dropping two games at home to Los Angeles (14-11) from April 5-6. Those defeats were part of an 0-6 start.

The Rays are a major league-best 13-3 since April 11, and return home after winning the final five games of a six-game trip. Zobrist had the best day of his career Thursday by going 7 for 10 with two homers and 10 RBIs in a doubleheader sweep at Minnesota.

“I really had no idea what was happening,” Zobrist said. “I just was kind of in the zone. Just trying not to think about it too much. I just felt real comfortable, obviously, in the box.”

In the first game, Zobrist drove in eight to break the team record of seven set by Carlos Pena in 2007. He became the first player with at least eight RBIs in one game since Toronto’s Adam Lind(notes) on Aug. 31, 2009.

Zobrist went 0 for 7 against the Angels earlier this month, and began the doubleheader with a .205 average. His big day raised it to .258, and his 18 RBIs over his last five games have given him the AL lead with 25.

“That’s hot,” manager Joe Maddon said. “Ben’s just not missing. He’s getting his opportunities and the at-bats have been working and he’s done a great job with it.”

Zobrist is 1 for 8 against Angels starter Ervin Santana(notes) (0-3, 5.51 ERA), who yielded five runs over seven innings in Saturday’s 5-0 loss to Boston.

“Everything feels good,” Santana told the Angels’ official website. “My fastball, slider, changeup are all working. It seems like I make one bad pitch and it gets hit.”

The right-hander is 1-4 with a 7.36 ERA in seven career starts at Tropicana Field. B.J. Upton(notes), who had five hits and three RBIs in the Minnesota series, is 7 for 19 against Santana.

The Angels are starting a seven-game trip after losing five of seven at home, including Wednesday’s 2-1, 10-inning defeat to Oakland.

Newcomer Vernon Wells(notes) went 4 for 27 on the homestand, and is batting .178 with one homer and five RBIs.

“It could be worse,” Wells said. “It has been a smooth transition, but the good thing is it’s only one month. We have six more to go, hopefully. I’m looking forward to playing good baseball. I’ve got to do my part.”

Wells is 4 for 20 against Tampa Bay starter David Price(notes) (3-2, 3.19), who is trying to win four straight outings for the second time. Price previously accomplished the feat May 7-23, 2010.

The left-hander has a 2.28 ERA during his winning streak, although he gave up four runs over eight innings last Wednesday in a 6-4 victory at Toronto.

Price is 1-1 with a 4.18 ERA in four starts against the Angels.

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Starting Pitchers

E. Santana Min vs. D. Price Tor
11-12 Record 12-13
3.38 ERA 3.49
178 K 218
72 BB 63
1.22 WHIP 1.14


Friday, Apr 29