The Los Angeles Angels and Tampa Bay Rays will finish their four-game series in St. Petersburg, Fla., on Thursday afternoon, with the visitors looking for a way to ignite an offense that is one of the worst in the majors.
After losing 4-3 to the Rays in 11 innings on Wednesday, the Angels have scored a total of nine runs in six games on their current road trip, which began in Detroit. Los Angeles has dropped the past five games and eight of its past nine.
The struggles extend beyond the past week, as the Angels have scored just 66 runs in 22 games in August, an average of three runs per contest. Overall, the Angels rank 28th among the 30 major league teams in batting average (.226), 26th in runs (464) and 26th in on-base-plus-slugging percentage (.668).
“We’re just struggling quite a bit with the guys,” Angels interim manager Phil Nevin said. “We’ve hit some balls hard at the top of the lineup here and there. But for the most part, we’re struggling offensively, especially in the bottom of the order. You have to be consistent throughout the entire lineup, and we just haven’t been.”
Center fielder Mike Trout should be able to help, having returned for the past six games after missing 30 due to a back injury. Trout is 7-for-23 (.304) with two homers, three RBIs, one walk and six strikeouts since rejoining the lineup. He homered each of the past two days, but he is expected to get a day off on Thursday.
“He looks really good,” Nevin said. “I think just each day, you see the timing is a little better. His approach is always good. He understands what guys are trying to do. The swing decisions have gotten better each day.”
Left-hander Patrick Sandoval (4-8, 3.14 ERA) will start Thursday’s game for Los Angeles, coming off the first shutout of his career. He fired a four-hitter against the Detroit Tigers on Friday, striking out nine and walking none.
Sandoval is 0-0 with a 3.27 ERA in three career games (two starts) vs. Tampa Bay.
Right-hander Drew Rasmussen (8-4, 2.82 ERA) will look to extend his hot streak for the Rays. He has not given up more than two earned run in six consecutive starts, going 3-1 with a 2.05 ERA in that span.
He has been particularly sharp in his past two starts. Rasmussen took a perfect game into the ninth inning on Aug. 14 against the Baltimore Orioles and took a no-hitter into the sixth on Saturday against the Kansas City Royals. He allowed just three hits in those two games while striking out 15 and walking one.
“Giving up hits is semi-luck, but also, we’re really good defensively,” Rasmussen said. “So if you get ahead of hitters and you create contact, that gives us a chance to make plays. I really like our chances of finishing those plays. It’s going pretty good right now.”
Rasmussen has faced the Angels once in his career, throwing a scoreless inning in relief on June 26, 2021.