Rays-Angels Preview

With David Price opposing a rookie right-hander for the Los

Angeles Angels on Monday night, the Tampa Bay Rays had a decided

edge on the mound in their series opener in Anaheim.

The opposite should be the case Tuesday night.

Rays rookie Alex Cobb gets the ball against three-time All-Star

Dan Haren, who is good to go after having his most recent start

pushed back from Saturday due to tightness in his lower back.

Price has had his ups and downs this season, but the former No.

1 overall draft pick put together consecutive strong outings coming

into Monday’s start.

After getting hit hard by the Angels in late April, Price

bounced back – and helped the Rays (31-29) do the same. The

left-hander held Los Angeles (30-32) to a run over seven innings

and Tampa Bay erased the memories of losing three of four in

Seattle by winning 5-1 despite missing Evan Longoria and B.J. Upton

to the flu.

“Whenever we have some of our big players out, you know you got

to step up,” Price said.

Haren (5-3, 2.29 ERA) tries to do the same Tuesday as the Angels

look to avoid dropping a fourth straight game, a skid that began in

a game the right-hander was originally supposed to start.

Haren, who has received the lowest run-support average (2.40) in

the AL, was slated to pitch against the Yankees on Saturday. But he

didn’t get the chance to build on his first win since mid-April, a

6-5 victory over the Twins on May 29 when he allowed three runs

over six innings.

Haren suffered lower back tightness during a bullpen session

Wednesday at Kansas City that kept him out Saturday, but threw 30

pitches prior to Sunday’s game and reported no issues.

“When it happened, I thought I was going to be down for a while.

It was pretty painful,” Haren told the Angels’ official website. “I

worked hard and the training staff got on me good. It’s progressed

every day.”

To Haren, there’s a big difference between having a start pushed

back and missing it entirely. He has a major league-leading streak

of 215 consecutive starts made since 2005.

“It’s not really about any streak, it’s just about getting out

there,” Haren said. “Baseball is the ultimate team sport. I do no

good sitting here in the training room and sitting on the

bench.”

The Rays certainly wish he had to push it back a few more days.

Haren is 6-2 with a 2.57 ERA in 10 starts versus Tampa Bay, and he

held manager Joe Maddon’s team to a run over 7 2-3 innings in a 5-1

win at Tropicana Field on April 6.

He might get a break Tuesday if Longoria and Upton can’t return.

Their status for the remainder of the series is uncertain, and

Maddon said Reid Brignac and Sean Rodriguez weren’t feeling well

during Monday’s game, either.

Upton is 8 for 23 with three homers against Haren.

Cobb (0-0, 5.91) counters for Tampa Bay after making his major

league debut against the Angels on May 1. The righty gave up four

runs, four hits, four walks over 4 1-3 innings and was apparently

tipping his pitches before leaving without a decision in a 6-5

loss.

After spending the rest of the month in the minors, Cobb held

Texas to three runs over 6 1-3 innings on May 29.

Angels outfielder Vernon Wells, who was hitting .183 when he

went on the disabled list May 10 with a right groin injury, could

return Tuesday.