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Mike Trout’s much-anticipated return hasn’t resulted in an instant spark for the Los Angeles Angels, who have dropped back-to-back games coming out of the All-Star break. Trout is 3-for-8 in his first two contests back with the Angels, who look to avoid a three-game sweep against the visiting Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday.
Alex Cobb worked into the eighth inning and Logan Morrison belted his 25th homer in Saturday’s 6-3 win as the Rays moved a season-high six games over .500 and continued to squelch any talk about being sellers at the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. “To even think about being a seller at the deadline, there would be some really upset guys in here,” Rays third baseman Evan Longoria told the Tampa Bay Times. “We came into spring training with the goal of playing in the postseason. Now we have a legitimate chance to do that.” The Angels were hoping Trout would provide an immediate boost to their inconsistent offense, but they’ve scored a total of four runs in their last two contests while dropping four games under .500. Luis Valbuena has been mired in a season-long slump but hopes to build on his performance on Saturday, when he homered twice and drove in three runs.
TV: 3:37 p.m. ET, FSN Sun (Tampa Bay), FSN West (Los Angeles)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Rays RH Chris Archer (7-5, 3.95 ERA) vs. Angels RH Parker Bridwell (3-1, 3.24)
Archer was selected for the All-Star Game for the second time in the last three years after recording 147 strikeouts over 123 innings in the first half. The 28-year-old did not factor in the decision in his last start after allowing three runs over 6 2/3 frames against Boston. Albert Pujols is 5-for-12 with a home run against Archer, who is 5-1 with a 2.48 ERA in six career starts versus Los Angeles - including a 3-1 mark and 2.31 ERA in four outings at Angel Stadium.
Bridwell bounced back from a rough outing against Seattle by tossing six scoreless innings in a 2-1 win over Minnesota on July 5. The Angels have gone 4-1 in games started by the 25-year-old rookie, who was acquired from Baltimore on April 17. The Texan, who is making his first appearance against Tampa Bay, has recorded 19 strikeouts against 10 walks in 33 1/3 innings over six games (five starts) this season.
1. The Rays activated Tim Beckham (ankle) from the disabled list and optioned fellow INF Taylor Featherston to Triple-A Durham.
2. The Angels have been outscored 32-15 during their seven-game home losing streak to the Rays.
3. Tampa Bay C Wilson Ramos (hamstring) was held out of Saturday’s game but hopes to return for the series finale.
PREDICTION: Rays 7, Angels 3