The Rays (53-53) have dropped three straight, allowing at least 11 runs in each of their losses to the Baltimore Orioles, and the Angels (54-53) are coming in from the opposite direction, having won four of five coming in.
But Tampa Bay is expected to continue to sell off some of its key assets in advance of Tuesday's trade deadline, potentially including top starter Chris Archer. The Rays traded away three pitchers in three days last week, dealing away starter Nathan Eovaldi to the Boston Red Sox, reliever Matt Andriese to the Arizona Diamondbacks and reliever Jonny Venters to the Atlanta Braves.
Tampa Bay had pushed through trade after trade -- the offseason saw Evan Longoria, Corey Dickerson, Jake Odorizzi and Steven Souza all dealt away, then closer Jesus Colome and outfielder Denard Span early this season. Despite all of that turnover and key injuries, the Rays were three games above .500 before the Orioles won three straight.
On Tuesday, Tampa Bay will turn to reliever-turned-"opener" Ryne Stanek (1-3, 2.43 ERA), who is coming off a rare bad outing, giving up three runs on two home runs in two innings Saturday against the Orioles. Stanek had allowed three runs in his previous 23 appearances, going back to the beginning of June, and saw his ERA balloon from 1.86 to 2.43 in one appearance.
Stanek faced the Angels in May, giving up two runs in a harmless ninth inning of what ended up a 5-3 win for the Rays. Adding in two outings last season, Stanek has a 7.71 career ERA against the Angels with no hits but four walks in his games last year.
Los Angeles counters with red-hot Tyler Skaggs, a 27-year-old left-hander who has allowed eight earned runs in his last eight starts, going just 5-2 in that span but lowering his ERA from 3.60 to 2.62 along the way. That ERA is nearly two runs lower than the 4.55 he carried last season and a run under his career mark coming in.
Skaggs also pitched well against the Rays this season, taking a shutout into the sixth inning and giving up just one run and six hits while striking out seven. For his career, he's 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA against the Rays, with his other outing in 2014.
Angels star Mike Trout has always fared well against the Rays, with a .305 career average and 12 home runs and 27 RBIs in just 154 at-bats. He's even better at Tropicana Field, where he has a .344 average and five home runs in 61 at-bats.
Will the Rays make any more moves before the first pitch is thrown against the Angels? Tampa Bay's remaining lineup should include former Angels hitter C.J. Cron, who has reset career highs already this season with 22 home runs and 53 RBIs in his first year with the Rays.