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The Tampa Bay Rays are looking to split the four-game series against the Los Angeles Angels.
Angels picking up it in a major way
Heading into the season, there was plenty of hope from the Angels that they would take a tremendous step forward in the 2019 campaign. However, it has been a campaign that has been full of ups and downs, but they have been able to battle back from a struggling stretch as they have been one of the hottest teams in the league over the past week that has seen them work their way toward being one game under .500 through the first 71 games played while being 3.5 games behind the Texas Rangers for the second wildcard spot. Their hopes of competing for an AL West division title appear to be dim at this point in time, but they have made a serious push toward being possible contenders for a wildcard spot. This has seen them pick it up a major way in the month of June as they have been one of the most productive teams at the plate in the last couple of weeks currently ranking seventh in runs scored, eight in doubles, seventh in home runs, and 10th in batting average.
Cycle raker, history maker. pic.twitter.com/43Wjni6gzq
— Los Angeles Angels (@Angels) June 14, 2019
This has been led to reigning AL Rookie of the Year Shohei Ohtani finding his groove this month as he has been of the most productive players in the league at the plate. In June, Ohtani is currently hitting .333 with five home runs, 14 RBI, and 12 runs scored over the span. This has been an even more productive week for him as he’s batting .476 with three home runs, seven RBI, and eight runs scored. It includes him hitting for the cycle in the series opener against the Rays that made him the first Japanese-born player to accomplish that feat and the first Angel since Mike Trout dating back to the 2013 season. Although Trout has stumbled a bit over the last couple of weeks, he is still putting together a campaign that will put him in the running for the AL MVP award as he’s hitting .281 with 18 home runs, 44 RBI, and 53 runs scored. The Angels will be turning to rookie right-hander Griffin Canning on Sunday as he holds a 2-2 record with a 3.65 ERA with a 0.99 WHIP in eight starts this season. Canning has had some struggles in his last two starts giving up seven runs in his last two outings combined, but Los Angeles’ uptick in offensive production be enough to push them forward on the road.
Rays looking to get back on track
Despite holding one of the lowest paid rosters in the league, the Rays have raced out to one of the best records being among the mix to contend for the AL East division title just trailing the New York Yankees by just 0.5 games. However, they do hold a commanding lead in the American League wildcard race being four games ahead of the Rangers for the first spot while being up at least five games ahead of the rest of the field. They have been fueled by the play of their pitching staff that currently leads the majors with a 2.98 ERA while being third in strikeouts, second in opposing batting average, second in the least hits allowed, and first by a wide margin in the fewest home runs given up. The tremendous amount of stability that their pitching staff has been the case for the last couple of years that have made them one of the best teams in the league over that span.
Ay Yandy! pic.twitter.com/JFuAuFwfWC
— Tampa Bay Devil Rays (@RaysBaseball) June 15, 2019
Part of this has been their approach of using the opener that has helped them get the necessary matchups in the process throughout the last couple of years. This will be the case once again on Sunday afternoon with them turning to right-handed reliever Ryne Stanek, who holds a 0-1 record with a 2.54 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP in 30 games with 19 starts over 39.0 innings pitched. Stanek has proven to be one of their most effective arms out of the bullpen that has excelled in this role as the opener this year as opposing hitters hold a .193 batting average against him along with a .248 on-base percentage, and a .339 slugging percentage, and six runs allowed in 109 at-bats against him. The Rays have had dependable hitting the last week that has seen second baseman Brandon Lowe step it up batting .409 with three home runs, seven RBI. Third baseman Yandy Diaz has also been a big factor in the last week batting .441 with a home run and three RBI. This includes him hitting a three-run shot in Saturday’s game against the Angels. Ultimately, the difference in Sunday’s contest will be the Rays needing to get out to a quick start as they have fallen behind in each of the first three games of the series. If it is more of the same, it will result in just that.
- Rays are 2-6 in their last eight games on astroturf.
- Rays are 2-6 in their last eight home games.
- Rays are 1-4 in their last five home games against a right-handed starter.
- Angels are 4-0 in their last four contests during Game 4 of a series.
- Angels are 7-2 in their last nine games against American League East division opponents.
- Angels are 5-2 in their last seven games against a team with a winning record.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
The Angels have been red hot over the last week, which has been fueled largely by their ability to put up runs early in the game. With their offense humming, it should be more of the same on Sunday afternoon. In other words, Los Angeles has hit their stride and will continue to roll forward.
Prediction: Los Angeles
Full-Game Total Pick
Given that the Angels have seen their offense step it up over the last week, it should continue to be the trend. However, the question remains whether the Rays can get the best of the rookie right-hander, who has been putting together a strong campaign. Keep in mind, the under is 7-3-1 in the last 11 meetings in Tampa Bay between both teams.