Angels 3, Rays 1
The Los Angeles Angels are eagerly awaiting the arrival of Zack Greinke, the latest addition to their All-Star rotation.
Dan Haren has a pretty good idea how Greinke is going to feel when he makes his Angels debut.
Haren allowed five hits in six-plus innings and struck out six in a 3-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday night, hours after Los Angeles acquired Greinke in a trade that sent rookie shortstop Jean Segura and Double-A pitchers Ariel Pena and Johnny Hellweg to Milwaukee.
The 2009 AL Cy Young Award winner is scheduled to start Sunday for the Angels.
''He's a guy I've admired for a while. He's the definition of electric stuff - which is the opposite of me,'' Haren said after winning his second straight start since coming off the disabled list. ''My game is more command, and his game is command and having a wide arsenal of pitches. I've seen him throw many times, and it's going to be exciting when he comes in here and throws that first game. I remember I was really excited when I did here, so I'm sure he's going to be amped up.''
Jeff Keppinger had three hits in three at-bats against Haren, including a home run in the second and a leadoff double in the seventh that made him 7 for 14 against the right-hander.
Haren faced one more batter after that, issuing his only walk of the game to Carlos Pena. Kevin Jepsen retired Ryan Roberts and Jose Lobaton on fly balls before striking out Elliot Johnson.
''At that point, there's not a whole lot of leeway. So you just go after guys,'' Jepsen said. ''That's the thing about coming on in the late innings - anytime you have a bad outing, you're spoiling somebody else's good outing. But you can't think about that. Once you get the first out, then you've got to bear down on the second guy. And when you get three outs and they tell you your night's over, you take a deep breath.''
Tampa Bay got four other runners as far as second base, but came up empty each time and finished 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position. The Rays are batting .183 in those situations since the All-Star break.
''We've talked about it. It's the same story. The opportunities are out there. We just have to do better,'' manager Joe Maddon said. ''I felt good about Ryan hitting under those circumstances, and I thought Lopie had a really good at-bat, too. Jepsen looked like he was a little more frisky than he had been in the past, a little more aggressive, and he did a nice job.''
Albert Pujols had three hits, including a two-run double, to help the Angels snap a six-game losing streak against the Rays. Scott Downs pitched a scoreless eighth and Ernesto Frieri worked a perfect ninth for his 12th save in as many opportunities.
Alex Cobb (4-8) gave up three runs and eight hits in seven innings without walking a batter. The 24-year-old right-hander, returning to the site of his first major league victory last June, left his previous start last Saturday against Seattle after two innings because of a bruised right leg. He is 1-5 with a 6.25 ERA in six starts since pitching two-hit ball over seven innings in a 3-0 victory against the Marlins on June 17.
The Angels had runners at the corners in the first when pitching coach Jim Hickey went out to talk with Cobb after just 17 pitches and a 1-0 count on Mark Trumbo - who then grounded into an inning-ending double play.
''Jim's really good at coming out and taking your mind off everything and focus on one particular thing,'' Cobb said. ''He's got a good feel. He knows when things are speeding up out there on the mound and getting out of hand, and they were. He saw me getting under the ball a little bit, so he told me: `This is a good double-play candidate, so keep the ball down and make him hit it on the ground.'''
The Angels scored all their runs and grabbed a 3-1 lead in the third with four consecutive two-out hits, including Pujols' two-run double off the glove of a diving Sam Fuld in left field and an RBI single by Trumbo. AL batting leader Mike Trout started the rally with a single before Torii Hunter reached on a perfectly placed bunt single between third base and the mound.
''When you get two outs, you need to close the inning down,'' Cobb said. ''I'm not too mad about the bunt. I'm more mad about getting behind on Trout and putting him in a hitter's count. But overall I felt good. I've been struggling the last couple of games with my fastball command, and I felt that was there tonight. I was able to get ahead most of the game, and when you're in the driver's seat, it makes pitching a lot easier.''
Keppinger opened the scoring in the second with his fourth homer, marking the seventh straight start in which Haren has given up a home run. It was the 18th allowed by the three-time All-Star in his 19 starts, just two fewer than he served up in 34 starts last year.
''They came out really aggressive,'' Haren said. ''They had a first-pitch homer by Keppinger, and they were swinging early. So I went primarily to softer stuff, just to get them off balance. We scratched out a couple of runs and the bullpen did great.''
Downs retired pinch-hitter Brooks Conrad with two on in the eighth.
NOTES: Tampa Bay sold the signing rights of 1B-OF Brandon Allen to the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks of the Japanese Central League. The Rays acquired him off waivers from Oakland on April 19. ... Joyce is 0 for 13 against Haren, and Zobrist is 3 for 24. ... The Rays' six-game errorless streak is their longest this season and four shy of the franchise record. But they have committed 76 errors, three more than they had in 2011.