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MLB: Rays going for four-game road sweep of Angels

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At the recent expense of the Los Angeles Angels, the Tampa Bay Rays continue to fare well on the road.

The Rays can match a season high with their fifth straight victory overall by completing a four-game road sweep of the struggling Angels on Thursday night at Anaheim, Calif.

Tampa Bay dropped four consecutive road games from April 3-7 but since then is 8-1 away from home. The Rays have outscored Los Angeles 18-7 while taking the first three games of this four-game set. They last swept a four-game series at Anaheim in August 2012.

Brandon Lowe’s three-run homer in the seventh inning erased a 1-0 deficit on Wednesday and sent Tampa Bay to a 3-1 victory. Lowe is batting a disappointing .193 this season but has hit safely in six of his last seven contests.

Los Angeles has just seven runs during its current four-game slide — which matches a season high. The Angels have also dropped four in a row at home, and 10 of their last 14 overall.

Angels star Mike Trout went 0-for-2 while drawing a walk and getting hit by a pitch on Wednesday to see his average drop to .398. Los Angeles made news prior to Wednesday’s contest when it placed fellow star Anthony Rendon on the injured list with a left-knee contusion. He’s batting .276 with three home runs and 11 RBIs in 15 games.

For a second straight night, Los Angeles is expected to face some form of bullpen game by Rays pitchers. According to the Tampa Bay Times, right-hander Collin McHugh (0-1, 10.13 ERA), who has missed nearly three weeks with a lower-back strain, is slated to return to action and open this contest while lefty Josh Fleming could follow and get the bulk of the work.

The Rays continue to deal with injuries to their pitching staff, most recently Michael Wacha and Diego Castillo, but have managed to keep their collective head above water.

“I think from an organizational philosophy, you have to anticipate that there are going to be some times throughout the season where it’s going to get really challenging and sketchy,” manager Kevin Cash said. “And how are we going to fulfill different roles?

The Angels are scheduled to turn to Andrew Heaney (1-2, 5.25 ERA), who hopes to be better after allowing four runs and six hits, including three solo homers, while walking two and striking out five over just 3 1/3 innings of a 7-4 loss at Seattle on Friday. The left-hander served up just one home run over his first four starts of 2021.

“I’ve always said, ‘Solo homers don’t beat you,'” Heaney said. “And I guess the one caveat to that would be giving up a solo homer every inning you pitch.”

Heaney has allowed four homers while going 0-3 with a 4.87 ERA in four career starts against the Rays. But he last faced them in 2019. Austin Meadows hit one of those homers while going 3-for-5 all-time off Heaney.

He has never faced Tampa Bay standout Randy Arozarena, who was out of the starting lineup Wednesday and is 1-for-16 with nine strikeouts in his last five games.

–Field Level Media

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