ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Los Angeles Angels continue to fight to stay at .500 or better, but they’re doing so without half their starting rotation.
Garrett Richards made only one start this season and Tyler Skaggs has been on the disabled list since the end of April. And now, rookie Alex Meyer joins them on the disabled list after dealing with back spasms as he prepared for a scheduled start Thursday to wrap up a four-game series with the Tampa Bay Rays.
In his place, they’ll turn to 26-year-old right-hander Daniel Wright, who split last season with the Reds and Angels and made one start for Los Angeles earlier this season, earning a 5.54 ERA in limited work. Since going to Triple-A Salt Lake City, he’s struggled worse, with a 9.35 ERA in four starts — 24 hits and 18 earned runs in 17 1/3 innings, allowing opposing hitters to a .316 average.
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It won’t take much to fare better than Wednesday’s Angels starter, Ricky Nolasco, who gave up three home runs — giving him 16 allowed this season, one off the American League lead — in a 5-2 loss to the Rays.
“His fastball command isn’t as crisp as it was at the end of the year when he pitched well for us,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said after Wednesday’s loss. “I think he is getting there.”
The Rays, meanwhile, try to salvage a split in the four-game series and a winning record on the seven-game homestand, getting an offensive spark Wednesday after being held in check by Angels pitching in the first two games.
They’ll turn to righty Matt Andriese, who got the win Saturday against the Yankees but gave up five runs in five innings, getting ejected in the sixth after he hit Aaron Judge. Andriese had two outings against the Angels last season and was dominant with a 0.90 ERA, allowing one run in 10 innings, including a seven-inning gem last summer.
The Rays got six innings from Erasmo Ramirez and were encouraged by their bullpen Wednesday — three innings of no-hit scoreless relief, including rookie Ryne Stanek striking out Mike Trout and Albert Pujols with a runner on in the eighth.
“The bullpen came in and did some good things,” manager Kevin Cash said. “(Jose) Alvarado, Stanek and Alex (Colome), for those two young guys to continue to make big pitches and throw strikes, that’s important.”
Ramirez is a success story for the Rays, having started the season in the bullpen and now built himself up to be a starter, throwing 82 pitches and six full innings in Wednesday’s win. It’s the same arc that Andriese took in establishing himself as a starter in the opening rotation, something he can reinforce Thursday in the series finale against the Angels.
If Tampa Bay can bounce back with a win Thursday, both teams will finish the series at 25-25 as Tampa Bay heads on the road for nine games — three apiece at the Twins, Rangers and Mariners. The Angels get another three at the Marlins before returning home for their next seven.