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Tampa Bay pitchers have shut down Angels

ANGELS NOTES

Rays have won five of six in the season series, holding Angels to a .199 average. The teams begin a four-game series Thursday.

August 15, 2012|By Baxter Holmes

The Tampa Bay Rays will grimace at their offensive numbers Wednesday, when Seattle's Felix Hernandez threw a perfect game and a 1-0 loss their way.

But those Rays can smile when they take a peek at the offensive numbers the Angels have put up when the two clubs have gone toe to toe this season. And the Rays can start smiling Thursday, because that's when the Angels and Rays will kick off a pivotal four-game series at Angel Stadium.

"Tampa has pitched very well this year," Angels Manager Mike Scioscia said before his team faced Cleveland.

As of Wednesday, the Rays' pitching staff had the third-lowest earned-run average (3.34) of any team in the majors and ranked second in strikeouts (969).

And the Angels' lineup has produced next to nothing in the six games the teams have played against each other this season, five of them Tampa Bay wins.

In those six meetings, the Angels have scored eight runs, have batted a measly .199 (37 for 186), including only .114 (four for 35) with runners in scoring position.

The Angels' Mark Trumbo said he didn't care what the numbers are. "We're going to take it to them," he said.

This series comes at a crucial time for the Angels, who are trying to make up ground in the wild-card race with a month and a half left in the season. Entering Wednesday, they were two games back of the second-wild card spot, which was being held by Tampa Bay (63-54).

"We know what they are, we know what they throw," Trumbo said. "Nobody is intimidated by them. Nobody cares what they did in the past against us. I think the mind-set is to put together some good at-bats and capitalize when they make mistakes, because they do make mistakes."

They don't bow

As dominant as Seattle's Hernandez can be, the Mariners' ace has a 6-10 record and 3.85 ERA in 27 starts against the Angels. After Hernandez' perfect game, Torii Hunter was asked: How do the Angels ever beat this guy?

"It's a secret," Hunter said. "I'm not going to tell."

The game was on the clubhouse televisions, and Hunter said the Angels were cheering Hernandez on during the history-making effort.

"Outside of when he's pitching against us, you watch him and you're like, 'Wow!'" Hunter said of Hernandez. "He's such a competitor."

Rest day

Albert Pujols wasn't in the lineup for only the fourth time in the Angels' 118 games.

"Last night he was a little tired after the game," Scioscia said. "We're just trying to give his legs a recharge day, and hopefully he'll be ready to go [Thursday]. That's what we anticipate."

Pujols has hit home runs in two consecutive games leading up to his rare day off. He is sixth in the American League with 82 runs batted in.

baxter.holmes@latimes.com

twitter.com/BaxterHolmes

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