Rays-Angels Preview

The Tampa Bay Rays will face a sub-.500 team for the first time

in three weeks but that may not help them snap out of their

funk.

The Rays hope to end their struggles against the Los Angeles

Angels in Monday night’s opener of a three-game series in

Anaheim.

Tampa Bay held a three-game lead in the AL East on May 16 but a

difficult stretch has pushed the Rays into a tie for third with

Toronto and four games behind New York.

They enter this series having dropped 14 of 21 and suffered 12

of those losses while facing seven consecutive opponents with a

.500 record or better.

They lost three of four to Seattle in the opening series of a

season-high, 11-game trip and gave up six runs over the final three

innings during a 9-6 loss Sunday.

Tampa Bay will finally get to face a team with a losing record

in Los Angeles (30-31), but has dropped seven of nine to the Angels

and four of five this season.

Most of those losses, though, came at Tropicana Field. The Rays

have won four of five in Anaheim after losing 41 of their first 55

games there.

David Price earned one of those victories last May during his

19-win campaign, but he’s 1-2 with a 5.14 ERA in five career

matchups. He gave up five runs and a career-high 12 hits over 4 1-3

innings in an 8-5 loss to the Angels on April 29.

Price (6-5, 3.52 ERA) rebounded from that outing to win

consecutive starts but is 1-2 with a 4.39 ERA in his last four. He

gave up one run over his first seven innings Wednesday against

Texas but allowed two in his final frame of a 3-0 defeat.

Price has received a combined six runs of support in his last

four outings and an average of 3.74 this season. He had a 6.00 run

support average in 2010.

“Last year, I was pretty lucky. This year, I haven’t been so

lucky,” Price told the team’s website. “I feel like I’ve thrown the

ball a lot better this year. … It’s just not happening for me

right now.”

Angels rookie Tyler Chatwood (3-2, 3.64), meanwhile, has had

better results lately, going 1-0 with a 1.77 ERA in his last three

starts. He’s also coming off one of his best efforts, pitching

five-hit ball over 7 2-3 scoreless innings Wednesday in Kansas

City.

Chatwood, though, got zero runs from his teammates for the third

time in four outings and did not get a decision in a 2-0

defeat.

The right-hander might not get much better support in this game

with Los Angeles having scored 11 runs during a 1-4 stretch. The

Angels are also batting .171 with runners in scoring position this

month, including a 2-for-9 performance in Sunday’s 5-3 loss to the

New York Yankees.

“That’s the game of baseball. You’re not going to figure it out.

This is a crazy game,” outfielder Torii Hunter said. “All you can

do is put the bat on the ball, and try to hit it hard and hope it

works out.”

Chatwood also had one of his worst starts in Tampa Bay on May 1,

when he allowed five runs and nine hits over four innings.

Howie Kendrick, who returned from the disabled list Saturday,

could provide a spark for his team considering he’s a .445 hitter

against Tampa Bay, the best average among active players with at

least 100 at-bats versus the Rays.