Angels-Rays preview

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Two teams with nearly identical records and similar losing streaks meet as the Los Angeles Angels and Tampa Bay Rays play four games at Tropicana Field, with both teams desperately trying to regain positive momentum before the All-Star break.

“The team, we played our tail off. We battled,” Rays starter Chris Archer said Sunday after another late-game meltdown turned into a 5-1 loss to the Tigers to complete a four-game sweep. “It's a tough one to lose because we really battled up until the end.”

The Rays (33-48) have lost 16 of 18 games as they officially enter the second half of the season, and their bullpen has given up runs in 17 of those games. On Sunday, the Rays had a 1-0 lead in the eighth inning, only to see reliever Xavier Cedeno allow two inherited runners to score, with more runs coming in the ninth.

Los Angeles (33-49) is coming off a 10-5 loss to Boston, and aside from a ridiculous 21-2 win on Saturday that included 22 hits and an 11-run seventh inning, nothing has been clicking for the Angels, who have dropped 11 of their last 13 games.

The Angels will try to shake things up a bit Monday, with 25-year-old right-hander Nick Tropeano called up from Triple-A to start against the Rays. Tropeano is 3-2 with a 3.25 ERA in previous stints this season, and struck out 10 Rays batters in a 3-1 loss in May, giving up seven hits in his outing.

Tropeano's callup means Jhoulys Chacin has been demoted to the bullpen after continued ineffectiveness.

“I'm fine with it,” Chacin told the team's official site Sunday. “I know the last few games I haven't done my job. Honestly, I don't feel bad that they sent me to the bullpen. I actually feel good that they have confidence in me to keep me on the team.”

The Rays counter with left-hander Matt Moore, whose last start was a rare bright spot for Tampa Bay in recent weeks. Moore threw seven innings of shutout baseball in a 4-0 win against the Red Sox on Wednesday. He is 4-5 with a 4.67 ERA, though both of the Angels' big bats, Mike Trout and Albert Pujols, each has a home run in eight at-bats against him.

Rays manager Kevin Cash was optimistic his team could build off a strong start by Archer on Sunday — zero runs on three hits in 5 2/3 innings with 10 strikeouts. He doesn't have many bullpen arms he trusts, so he will need Moore to last as long as possible before he has to turn to any relievers.

“Can't help but feel really good about what Chris Archer did today,” Cash said. “He kicked it in gear and kind of showed the Archer we know he's very capable of being. That was an outstanding effort by Arch.”