Devil Rays 8, Angels 3
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP)—Ty Wigginton insists he hasn’t changed a thing. Eight straight hits suggest otherwise.
Wigginton went 4-for-4 for the second straight game, tying a Tampa Bay record for hits in consecutive plate appearances, and helping the struggling Devil Rays beat the Los Angeles Angels 8-3 on Tuesday night.
“I’ve been doing the same thing I’ve been doing all year,” said Wigginton, who was mired in a 1-for-21 skid at Tropicana Field before pulling out of the slump with four hits during a loss to the New York Yankees on Sunday.
He drove in one run against the Angels with a fifth-inning single off Ervin Santana (5-11) and another with a single off Chris Bootcheck in the seventh to match the eight straight hits Aubrey Huff had for the Devil Rays from Sept. 22-24, 2004.
“Honestly, it doesn’t mean much,” Wigginton said of tying the club record. “When you get done playing, I guess maybe you can look back on all this stuff and see some of your accomplishments.”
James Shields (8-5) allowed seven hits and two runs in seven innings for Tampa Bay, which won for only the third time in 19 games—a stretch that has the last-place team on pace for another 100-loss season.
Santana, who has lost a career-worst five straight decisions over six starts, allowed seven runs and a career-high 14 hits—12 singles—in six innings.
B.J. Upton and Delmon Young had RBI singles in the second inning to give Tampa Bay a 2-0 lead, Carlos Pena’s two-run double snapped a 2-2 tie and was the biggest blow off Santana during a five-run fifth, and Wigginton followed with his seventh straight hit to make it 5-2.
The 8-for-8 streak raised Wigginton’s batting average from .264 to .281.
“His at-bats have been better. I think he has been laying off bad pitches and swinging at strikes again,” Devil Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “I just think he’s been more patient, getting better pitches. And when he sees his pitch, he’s not missing right now.”
Josh Wilson’s two-run single put Tampa Bay up 7-2 and finished the five-run inning.
Santana is 4-2 with a 3.42 ERA in eight home starts, but has been an entirely different pitcher on the road, where he’s 1-9 with an 8.79 ERA in 11 starts. The 14 hits he yielded Tuesday night were one shy of the Angels’ record set by Paul Hartzell at Kansas City on Sept. 9, 1976.
“We know this kid is a lot more talented than he’s shown,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “His stuff seems to be re-emerging, but the consistency doesn’t seem to be where it was last year.”
Santana, who has allowed 16 runs and 21 hits over his past two starts, won 16 games in 2006—his first full season in the majors.
“It’s nothing mechanically or anything,” the 24-year-old right-hander said. “I don’t know what the problem is. To me, everything is fine. You just have to keep pitching and try to win.”
Pena, who extended his hitting streak to a career-high 13 games, was one of the Devil Rays’ final cuts during spring training. He wound up on the Opening Day roster because on an injury to infielder Greg Norton and has made the most of the opportunity, batting .297 with 22 homers and 60 RBIs.
The major league record for consecutive plate appearances with a hit is 12. Mike Higgins did it for Boston in 1938 and Walt Dropo matched it with Detroit in 1952. … The Angels have gone 10 consecutive games without hitting a home run for the first time since July 7-21, 1991, when they went 11 straight without one. The current drought spans 96 innings. … After averaging 30,951 fans for a four-game series against the Yankees from Thursday through Sunday, the attendance was announced as 9,430 on Tuesday night. … The Devil Rays optioned LHP Jon Switzer to Triple-A Durham and plan to activate RHP Al Reyes from the 15-day DL on Wednesday. Reyes, who made a minor league rehab appearance at Class A Vero Beach on Monday, has been out since July 3 because of a mild rotator cuff strain.