Rays-Angels Preview

While he’s been successful against Tampa Bay during his career,

the Los Angeles Angels’ Jered Weaver could have a challenge in his

next matchup with the Rays.

Weaver might not get much help from his team’s anemic offense as

he tries to gain a share of the major league’s wins lead Wednesday

night.

Weaver (7-4, 2.14 ERA) is 4-1 with a 2.27 ERA in six career

starts against Tampa Bay (32-29) and has seemed to regain the form

he showed during the season’s first month. The right-hander had a

0.99 ERA while winning his first six starts but was 0-4 with a 5.25

ERA over his next four.

Weaver snapped his string of six consecutive winless outings

Friday as he allowed two runs and three hits over seven innings of

a 3-2 win against the New York Yankees.

The three runs matched the most support he’s received in seven

starts and that doesn’t look like it will change Wednesday. Even

with a healthier lineup, Los Angeles (30-33) has scored 13 runs

during a 1-6 stretch and the return of Vernon Wells from a groin

injury didn’t provide much of a spark.

The outfielder went 0 for 3 in his first game since May 9 and

his team managed seven hits in Tuesday’s 4-1 defeat. The Angels

have scored three runs or fewer in 18 of their last 31 games,

including each of the past seven.

“It’s just a matter of relaxing and trying not to force the

issue, just let some things come to us,” said Wells, batting .179

this season. “Even though it’s frustrating, guys are battling.

You’ve got to battle your way through periods like this and get

back to where we were.”

The Rays, meanwhile, got two doubles and a triple from Johnny

Damon during their third win in four games. Tampa Bay has also

prevailed in six of seven in Anaheim after losing 41 of its first

55 games there.

To earn another win there, the Rays might need James Shields

(5-4, 2.77) to end his recent struggles. After starting the season

4-1 with a 2.08 ERA, the right-hander is 1-3 with a 4.33 ERA in his

last four outings and was tagged for a season-worst eight runs over

four innings during Thursday’s 8-2 loss in Seattle.

“That one I did not see coming,” manager Joe Maddon said. “He’s

been so money.”

Shields was just that against Los Angeles on April 30, when he

gave up one run and six hits over eight innings. However, he didn’t

earn the win in a 2-1 victory.

Shields is 4-2 with a 2.58 ERA in his last seven starts against

the Angels and gave up three runs over six innings during a 4-3 win

in Anaheim on Aug. 23.

Damon, batting .340 over his last 25 games, is three doubles shy

of joining an exclusive club. He’s trying to become the 11th player

with at least 500 doubles, 100 triples, 200 homers and 2,500 hits.

The other 10 are in the Hall of Fame.

Damon has also reached base safely in 33 consecutive games, the

longest active streak in the majors.