16-hit attack powers Angels past Rays

Joe Haakenson, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- A team knows it played a bad game when its best pitcher was an outfielder.
Such was the case for the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday night, as they continued to stumble toward the finish line with an 11-2 loss to the Los Angeles Angels.
Five Rays pitchers, including starter Chris Archer, combined to allow 16 hits to the Angels before Sam Fuld entered the game with two outs in the bottom of the eighth. Fuld, a lefty, fell behind in the count 3-1 to J.B. Shuck, but got him on a flyout to shallow center field to end the inning.
"I was looking to boost morale somehow," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "I told Sammy before the inning began go down there (to the bullpen) and we'll see what happens. Once they set it up and here comes (left-handed-hitting) Shuck with two outs, I thought it was the right time to do it."
Shuck was one of six Angels players with at least two hits in the game, but he suffered the indignity of a weak flyout against Fuld, who never pitched in high school or college but hit 86 mph on the stadium radar gun.
"It's a lose-lose situation," Shuck said. "It's fun for the guy pitching, but it's never really fun for the guy hitting. You're supposed to get a hit, and if you don't ... what are you gonna do?"
Erick Aybar led the way early for the Angels, hitting a two-run homer in the fourth inning that gave Los Angeles a 5-1 lead. In the sixth, Aybar added a two-run triple during a five-run outburst that increased the Angels' lead to 10-2.
It was the Angels' ninth win in 10 games, a welcome stretch that comes too late. They've been reduced to the role of spoiler, even if it's hard for them to admit.
"I don't think we look at that way," Shuck said. "We're trying to go out and win still. We're trying to put together a good end to the season, help us out with confidence and help us out going into next year. We're looking at it as trying to finish strong."
For the Rays, it was their fifth loss in a row and eighth in nine games. They are holding onto the second wild-card spot in the American League, but just barely: Their lead over the Baltimore Orioles was reduced to two games, and they remained 5 1/2 games behind the Boston Red Sox in the AL East.
Angels starter Garrett Richards (5-6) walked a career-high seven batters, but he allowed only one run and two hits in five innings.
"We saw 103, 104 pitches while (Richards) was in there and had only two or three hits," Maddon said. "That's where our biggest problem is right now. I know (Archer) wasn't as sharp as normal, but we're putting so much pressure on the pitching staff by not scoring runs, we've got to get better there. We'll get better there, we absolutely will."
Andrew Romine had three hits for the Angels. Mike Trout had two hits and two stolen bases, and Grant Green hit his first career home run.
Ben Zobrist homered in the top of the first inning for the Rays, his 11th of the season, but the Angels answered in their half of the first. With two outs and nobody on, Trout singled and stole second (stolen base No. 30 on the season). Josh Hamilton followed with a sinking liner to right field, where Wil Myers made a diving attempt but failed to catch the ball, Hamilton ending up with an RBI double.
In the third inning, Kole Calhoun's two-out, RBI single scored Shuck to give the Angels a 2-1 lead.
The Angels knocked Archer out of the game in the fourth inning with a three-run inning before they tacked on five in the sixth inning to put the game out of reach.
Archer (8-6) gave up five runs on nine hits in 3 2/3 innings.
NOTES: Hamilton, who had not started the previous three games because of a sore shoulder and a migraine headache, was in the lineup at designated hitter. After going 1-for-5 Monday, Hamilton is hitting .329 (27-for-82) over his past 22 games, raising his season average from .217 to .236. ... Angels 1B Mark Trumbo did not play. Trumbo is homerless in his past 11 games, matching a season high and leaving him stuck on 29 for the season. He hit .158 (6-for-38) in those 11 games. ... Rays 1B James Loney is hitting .363 (78-for-215) on the road this season, the best in the majors. The last player to finish the season with a road average that high was Yankees 2B Robinson Cano, who hit .364 in 2006. ... Rays RHP Fernando Rodney has eight blown saves this season, second most in the majors (Baltimore RHP Jim Johnson has nine) and the most in his career. Rodney, who converted 48 of 50 save opportunities in 2012, has blown three of his past seven chances.

What to Read Next