Win Probability table courtesy of Fan Graphs.
Anaheim-Ervin Santana cruised to a win by throwing 6.1 innings of one-run baseball, and the Devil Rays offense took a nap on starter J.P. Howell as Tampa Bay lost their ninth in a row at Angel Stadium. The Rays have not won at their manager's former home domain since he took over as manager last season. Today's afternoon game marked the second of back to back 2-1 losses it clinched a 3-7 road trip for the Rays that could have easily been far better.
Rays starting pitcher J.P. Howell, making an abruptly announced spot start for Jamie Shields, struggled early on in the ballgame. He put two runners on in the first and gave up a solo home run to Angels RF Juan Rivera in the second to give Anaheim a 1-0 lead. Howell would give up another run in the fourth when Howie Kendrick scored from second on a Jeff Mathis single that would cap the Anaheim scoring effort on the day. Ultimately, it would be all they needed. Howell would go on to throw six full innings; earning a quality start as he walked just one and gave up five hits to go along with seven strikeouts. Although his velocity peaked at 85 and sat in the low 80s for much of the day, he appeared to have good movement on his pitches and pinpoint control. Dan Wheeler and Al Reyes would each pitch a perfect inning in relief of him to stymie Anaheim's efforts to add on insurance runs.
Unfortunately for the Rays, Howell's effort was matched by that of his starting compatriot-Ervin Santana. Likewise, Santana was making an abrupt spot start announced earlier in the day for the injured Bartolo Colòn. Booted from the rotation to make room for Colòn earlier this month, Santana might have won his way back into the good graces of Anaheim with his start today. He gave up just a lone Devil Ray run, a Jonny Gomes solo home run in the fifth inning, as well as all six Rays hits in 6.1 innings of work. He walk just two and struck out ten in the effort. The Anaheim bullpen wasn't any source of relief for the Rays either, as Darren Oliver and Justin Speier pitched a perfect 1.2 innings of work to set up Francisco Rodriguez, who notched his 37th save of the season.
3:35; FSN Florida
RAYS RADIO/WHNZ 1250 AM
|LH J.P. Howell
|RH Ervin Santana
LH J.P. Howell, DEVIL RAYS:
Overview-J.P. Howell makes his return to Tampa Bay for the end of the season and his first task is to contribute a major part at helping the Rays to win their first game in Anaheim since 2005. Howell comes back to the Rays to take the place of Jamie Shields in the rotation, who was shut down for the rest of the season yesterday. He has spent most of this season in Triple A Durham, sans a seven week stint with the Rays in June and July that was, to put it mildly, terrible. He pitched to a 7.36 ERA over eight starts with the Rays, finally being put out of his (and our) misery after the All-Star break. He did make one spot start for the Rays on July 20th at New York, but other than that spent the entire second half with the Durham Bulls. Down on Tobacco Road, Howell was actually quite successful. Why? Well, low 80s fastballs have a higher probability of getting by down in Durham than they do in the major leagues. The problem with Howell isn't the fact that he has control issues, or even that he doesn't strike out enough people. The problem is that when the ball is put into play against him, it is put into play hard and usually for a hit. He has astronomically high opponents' OPS and hit rates because his stuff comes across as batting practice pitches at times. He had a 2.80 ERA over his last ten starts for Durham but unless his velocity has improved to even the mid to high 80s, Howell has very little chance of success. And if his velocity is improved? Then I think that you are looking at a whole different pitch, one who I haven't been reluctant to support in the past.
Recent Starts-Howell's last major league outing came two months ago in the second game of that debacle of a double-header against New York, but since then he has made eight regular season and two post season starts for Durham. He made two starts and one relief appearance in Durham's playoff run, though they weren't great as he posted a 3.86 ERA total as Durham eventually lost to Richmond in Game 5 of the International League's championship series.
vs ANA-J.P. Howell has never pitched against the Anaheim Angels baseball club during his major league tenure over the last three seasons. In fact, only one Angel player has ever faced him otherwise, and that is CF Gary Matthews. His track record? No hits in three at bats.
RH Ervin Santana, Anaheim:
Overview-The Devil Rays aren't the only ones who can make abrupt starting changes. Anaheim announced earlier today that, oops, Bartolo Colón won't be starting after all, replaced instead by Ervin Santana. So after a very brief stint in which he was kicked out of the rotation, Santana makes a spot start this afternoon as the Angels go for the sweep. A homegrown product of the Anaheim system, Santana was signed out of his native Dominican Republic seven years ago and made his major league debut for the Angels in 2005, making 23 starts and putting up an altogether decent year. He improved slightly in his first full season the following year, but has struggled so much this season that he was booted from the Anaheim rotation after his September 8th start against the Cleveland Indians. He has made one relief outing for the Angels since, a three inning shutout effort against Chicago which was his first ever appearance out of the bullpen. He has a 5.82 ERA on the whole over 137.2 innings of work this season.
Recent Starts-Despite his removal from the rotation Santana didn't really have an especially bad stretch of starts before being yanked, certainly not in comparison to some of his other stretches of play this year. He was removed after getting only one out in Anaheim's August 28th outing against the Mariners, in which he was eventually charged with five runs. But subsequent to that he made two outings against Oakland and Cleveland over which his ERA was 1.50. So why was he lifted from the rotation? Well, to make room for 2005 Cy Young winner Bartolo Colón. His 2007 ERA? 6.68. But he is now going back into the rotation strictly because Colón is out due to injury, and he will likely stick through the rest of the regular season in a starting capacity, if not the postseason as well. Especially if he keeps up the pace that has enabled him to pitch to a 1.20 ERA over his last 15 innings of work.
vs DEVIL RAYS-The very good news for Tampa Bay is that unlike Anaheim's two previous starters and originally scheduled starter Bartolo Colón, Santana has struggled mightily in his career against the Devil Rays. He has a 6.90 career ERA over five starts against Tampa Bay, and did even worse than that in his only start of 2007 against them. Starting at Tropicana Field on July 27th, Santana gave up seven runs on 14 hits in six innings as he took the loss. However on the flip side, this marks the third straight game in which the most successful Ray against the scheduled starter has been the sidelined Carl Crawford. Among the rest of the team, Carlos Peña, Delmon Young, and Josh Wilson have the next-most success as each have two hits in five, four, and three at bats, respectively. B.J. Upton meanwhile is 3 for 3 with a walk in his only game against the Angel righty.