With their latest skid in the past, the Tampa Bay Rays can focus on trying to start a stretch in the positive direction.
The Rays look to build on a much-needed victory and record their fifth consecutive winning home series Thursday against the Los Angeles Angels.Rookie Chris Archer pitched seven strong innings while David DeJesus and Ben Zobrist each had two hits with an RBI as Tampa Bay (75-56) snapped a three-game slide with a 4-1 victory Wednesday. Fernando Rodney recorded his 31st save, one night after he allowed two runs in the ninth of a 6-5 loss to Los Angeles (59-72)."We gave away that game (Tuesday)," DeJesus said. "It's great to bounce back."Leading the AL wild-card by one-half game over Oakland and trailing first-place Boston by 2 1/2 in the East, the Rays hope to take the finale and build some momentum heading into a 10-game western road trip that begins Friday against the Athletics.The Rays will recall Jake Odorizzi (0-0, 6.00 ERA) from Triple-A Durham to make his fourth start of the season in place of Jeremy Hellickson, who was demoted to the minors Wednesday.Odorizzi, who went 9-6 with a 3.33 ERA in 22 starts in the minors this season, last pitched for Tampa Bay on June 18 when he gave up a solo homer and four other hits in 5 2/3 innings and was stuck with a 3-1 loss at Boston."He's been pitching well," manager Joe Maddon told the Rays' official website. "We thought that would be the right thing to do there."Making his first appearance against the Angels, the right-hander is 0-1 with a 5.73 ERA in his previous five major league starts.DeJesus is 7 for 16 with two doubles in five games since he was acquired from Washington last week. However, he's 0 for 9 against Los Angeles starter Jason Vargas (7-5, 3.77).The left-hander allowed a run in 6 1/3 innings of a 5-1 victory at Seattle on Saturday to improve to 1-1 with a 4.50 ERA in three starts since he missed almost two months with a blood clot in his arm."It was great to see him get into the seventh and get to 100 pitches," manager Mike Scioscia said. "He maintained his stuff. He pitched and I think that's when he's at his best."Vargas has allowed seven runs -- including all four earned over one outing -- in 20 1/3 innings while winning two of his last three starts against the Rays. He gave up an unearned run in six innings of a 2-1 victory at Tampa Bay last season.Though the Angels' four-game overall winning streak ended Wednesday, they're still in position to take their first series from the Rays since April 29-May 1, 2011.Mike Trout failed to homer in a fourth straight game against the Rays on Wednesday, but had two hits and is 10 for 24 in his last six versus Tampa Bay.Talented Tampa Bay rookie Wil Myers, however, is 0 for 18 with eight strikeouts in the last five contests.
James Loney has hit .332 in at-bats ending in a fastball or sinker. Jason Vargas has allowed a .364 batting average in at-bats ending in his fastball, third worst in the league among pitchers with at least 15 starts.