The Tampa Bay Rays shook off a rough stop in Texas and got right back into their playoff chase with a surprising burst of power.
Willy Adames, Austin Meadows and Jesús Aguilar homered in the third inning, and the Rays kept pace in the AL wild card race with an 11-4 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Friday night.
Guillermo Heredia also homered and Avisaíl García drove in three runs for the Rays, who snapped a two-game mini-skid against the Rangers by trouncing the plummeting Angels for their 12th win in 15 games. Tampa Bay (88-61) remained right behind Oakland (88-60) in the second wild card slot and a game ahead of Cleveland (86-61).
“We’re a resilient bunch,” Meadows said after hitting his team-leading 30th homer. “Losing two in Texas, those were close games, but I think we bounced back really well. We treat this (playoff race) the same as the beginning of the season. We just go out and play our game.”
Although they’re 11th in the AL in homers this season, the Rays showed power against the Angels. Meadows’ two-run shot extended his hitting streak to 12 games, and it put the Rays ahead to stay during their big third inning against Andrew Heaney (4-5).
Charlie Morton (15-6) yielded three runs over six innings of six-hit ball in yet another strong start.
“The offense, the fact that they were able to do what they did, was huge for me,” Morton said. “This group is real loose. I don’t see (the playoff race) affecting guys too much. I don’t think there’s a ton of pressure on guys to act a certain way. We’re just playing.”
Kole Calhoun hit two homers for the Angels, who lost their fifth straight while playing without Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani. They were also without Justin Upton, who was ruled out for the rest of the season after the game with patellar tendinitis.
Los Angeles dropped to 67-81, guaranteeing four straight non-winning seasons for the first time since 1993-96. At least the Angels briefly held their first lead since last Saturday when Albert Pujols doubled and scored on Luis Rengifo’s single in the second.
Heaney, the only veteran left in the Angels’ rotation, couldn’t get out of the fourth inning, yielding 10 hits and six runs in just his second loss since July 6.
“I thought when he went back through the order, the Rays made some adjustments and got hold of some pitches,” Angels manager Brad Ausmus said.
Trout missed his fifth straight game with an irritated nerve in his right foot. The superstar was in the Angels’ early lineup, but was scratched about two hours before game time to give him another day of rest.
“He put his cleat on and it kind of fired up again,” Ausmus said.
The Angels don’t currently plan to shut down Trout, who leads the AL with 45 homers.
Morton has matched his career high by winning 15 games for the second consecutive season, but with more strikeouts than he managed last season in Houston and a near-identical ERA. Morton had a personal 22-game unbeaten streak that ended against the Angels in June, but that defeat remains his only loss in nine career starts against the Halos.
The Rays’ Johnny Davis, a fast 29-year-old outfielder from nearby Compton, got his first major league hit in the ninth inning with a triple down the left field line. Davis then scored his first run on Aguilar’s sacrifice fly.
Even better, his mother and father were at Angel Stadium to see him play baseball for the very first time, he said.
“As soon as I hit it, I was thinking triple,” Davis said. “I felt like I was running in mud.”
Davis, who made his big league debut Wednesday as a pinch-runner and promptly got picked off, was signed by Tampa Bay on Aug. 26 out of the Mexican League, where he stole 54 bases. He’ll be a pinch-runner and defensive replacement down the stretch for Tampa Bay.
When Aguilar hit a solo homer to center with two outs in the third, outfielder Brian Goodwin’s glove fell off his hand and behind the fence into the area by the Big A’s ficus trees while he failed to catch it. Goodwin stood on the warning track awkwardly while Aguilar circled the bases, but someone eventually found the glove and threw it back on the field.
Rays: AL Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell is tentatively scheduled to start Tuesday at Dodger Stadium. He has been out since late July for elbow surgery, but is eager to help the Rays’ push for a playoff spot.
Angels: Ohtani had surgery Friday on his left kneecap. He will need eight to 12 weeks of recovery. … Upton with have a platelet-rich plasma injection soon, and he’ll need six weeks of recovery. He was limited to 63 games this season and finished with 12 homers and 40 RBIs — his lowest totals since his 43-game rookie season in 2007.
Tyler Glasnow (6-1, 2.15 ERA), a native of the north end of the sprawling five-county Los Angeles area, makes his second start back from a four-month injury absence for Tampa Bay. He faces Jaime Barria (4-8, 6.14 ERA), who is pitching at home for the first time since July after making six straight road appearances.
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