The reasoning behind the Los Angeles Angels remaining quiet through the trade deadline might have had something to do with knowing they’d soon be getting back an established starter.
C.J. Wilson will return to the rotation Saturday night and try to back up his front office’s decision in a road game against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Wilson (8-6, 4.33 ERA), who has been on the disabled list with a sprained right ankle, last started July 9, and the need for some time away was evident. Over his last four starts, the left-hander had a 10.26 ERA and .392 opponent batting average, yet still managed a 1-0 record.
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"I just want to step back in and be a winning piece," Wilson told MLB’s official website. "If I had been pitching well, I’d have like 13 wins by now. I have to get back on that train."
Wilson, whose 6.34 run support average is third-highest in the majors, might be choosing the right opponent against which to return. He threw a five-hit shutout versus the Rays on May 17 to improve to 5-2 with a 2.99 ERA lifetime against them.
He’s had plenty of success against Evan Longoria (4 for 23), Desmond Jennings (2 for 18), Jose Molina (3 for 18), David DeJesus (2 for 17) and James Loney (2 for 10). Yunel Escobar is 5 for 11.
The Angels (65-43) opened the series with a 5-3 win Friday behind home runs from Mike Trout and Josh Hamilton. Trout has followed a 2-for-19 stretch by going 4 for 9 in the last two games, both Los Angeles victories as the offense totaled 22 hits after batting .214 in its previous nine.
"We’re getting our timing back," Trout said. "A good win tonight for sure."
Hamilton, though, could sit out Saturday with a bruised left middle finger after being hit by a pitch.
Los Angeles has won four of five in the season series with Tampa Bay (53-56), which had a bases-loaded, no-out opportunity in the ninth but failed to score.
"We had every chance to win that game late," manager Joe Maddon said. "Seven-eight-nine (hitters) load up the bases and here comes one-two-three and we can’t get anything done. That’s really disappointing.
"There are no moral victories; we’ve got to start winning games, and that’s a game we should not have permitted to get away."
Ben Zobrist went 2 for 5 and is batting .480 on a seven-game hitting streak.
Tampa Bay is trying to avoid its first losing streak of at least three games since dropping four straight June 7-10. It is 29-14 since, and now turns to Chris Archer.
Archer (6-6, 3.37) has been steady but not spectacular, which wasn’t enough to avoid being stuck with the decision in Sunday’s 3-2 loss to Boston. The right-hander allowed three runs and six hits in six innings. He walked at least two batters for the eighth straight start, and his 3.51 walks per nine innings rank third-worst in the AL, right behind Wilson (3.71).
That amounted to him again running up his pitch count (106), as he did May 16 against Los Angeles. Archer threw 104 pitches in 5 2-3 innings while issuing five walks in the 3-0 win, but the only hits he surrendered were two singles.
He’s 2-1 with a 3.31 ERA in three career starts against the Angels, but Trout is 4 for 7 off Archer while Hamilton is 3 for 7 with a home run and four strikeouts.