The Rays' quick getaway to Kansas City didn't work out as well as they'd hoped. Now, Tampa Bay has to hope its forgettable one-day business trip won't carry into the rest of its homestand.
The Rays were roughed up by the Royals, 11-1, on Monday, a rare one-game road tilt amid six home games in order to make up for a snowed-out affair in May. Now 1 1/2 games behind the Red Sox in the American League East race, the Rays will return home Tuesday to face the Angels for a three-game series at Tropicana Field.
Manager Joe Maddon prepared for Monday's game with the idea of residual fatigue on his mind. Four starting pitchers stayed home to work out, Evan Longoria started as the designated hitter and center fielder Desmond Jennings got the day off. Will that help Tampa Bay come Tuesday? Maddon certainly hopes so.
"It's maybe not so much the fatigue today, but the fatigue that follows," Maddon said. "You've got all these time changes and the travel component within it. If you can keep a fresh mind right now, the body will follow. It's about keeping a fresh mind."
C.J. Wilson might know something about that. He has not been able to get over one pitch he made in his last outing. To make matters worse, the southpaw has had an extra day to stew over the single substandard heave.
Wilson will take the hill on Tuesday in the Angels' series opener in St. Petersburg as his club attempts to play spoiler to the Rays' postseason hopes.
Last Tuesday, the left-hander submitted a stellar outing against the Indians, allowing one run on four hits in 7 1/3 innings. His one mistake, however, resulted in a game-tying home run by Cleveland catcher Carlos Santana in the seventh inning. The Angels eventually lost, 4-1, in 14 frames.
"For me, it all came down to that one bad pitch I made to Santana," Wilson said. "If I make that pitch one more inch to the left, then he hits it off the end of the bat and it's a routine fly ball. ... You've got to hold yourself to a high standard, and I'm upset at myself. That's what I can control."
For the Rays, Roberto Hernandez (6-13, 4.97 ERA) could be pitching for his spot in the rotation. Hernandez made a one-inning relief appearance on Friday, an occurrence that could become the norm once left-hander Matt Moore returns from injury.
"It was a test run, and it looked good," Maddon said. "He gets ready pretty fast. We know that in the future and can get him out there against the right guys."
Angels: Time for evaluation
The club hopes to use the final five weeks of the season to determine which young players can be a part of its core moving forward.
"Sometimes it's important to see what a player can't do as opposed to seeing what they can do," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "When guys are out there playing in the Major Leagues, no matter what the situation is, you should be able to get a read on them to see how their skill set plays and evaluate where they need to be in your future plans. A lot of these young guys are getting a chance. They're going to continue to get a chance to see what they can do."
• The Angels will skip Jerome Williams' turn in the rotation, and Monday's off-day allowed the team to pitch the remainder of its starters on normal rest. Williams has a 7.61 ERA since the start of July.
Rays: Moore on the mend
Moore, who has been shelved since late July with left elbow soreness, threw a simulated game on Saturday and reported feeling fine Sunday. Moore was scheduled to throw in the bullpen in St. Petersburg on Monday in preparation for a Minor League rehab start Thursday, although the Rays haven't yet announced which affiliate Moore will join.
"We're trying to wait for weather reports," Maddon said. "We definitely want to make sure he pitches on that day."
That would put Moore in line to rejoin the Rays' rotation on Sept. 3 against the Angels in Anaheim. The All-Star left-hander, who was 14-3 with a 3.41 ERA before the injury, has not pitched in a game since July 28 against the Yankees in New York.
• In 58 1/3 career innings against Tampa Bay, Wilson boasts a 3.24 ERA with 64 strikeouts. Because of the Angels' off-day Monday, he will be pitching on six days' rest. In 16 career starts in such a circumstance, he has a 2.84 ERA.
• The Rays have only one off-day the rest of the season.