Los Angeles Angels vs. Tampa Bay Rays Pick & Prediction SEPTEMBER 21st 2023

Stadium: Tropicana Field St. Petersburg
Logo Los Angeles Angels
Logo Tampa Bay Rays

7.5o -110
-1.5 -130



With only nine games remaining in their pursuit of first place in the American League East, the Tampa Bay Rays will hand the ball to ace Zach Eflin when they oppose the Los Angeles Angels on Thursday afternoon in St. Petersburg, Fla.

In the rubber match of a three-game series, Eflin (15-8, 3.44 ERA) will make what likely will be his next-to-last regular-season start before a probable Game 1 start in the postseason.

So far, catching the first-place Baltimore Orioles (95-57) has been as frustrating for the Rays (93-60) as Wile E. Coyote's unsuccessful quest to catch his cartoonish avian prey, the Road Runner.

The Orioles won the first two games of their three-game series in Houston this week before dropping their Wednesday afternoon contest on a walk-off single by the Astros' Mauricio Dubon.

Tampa Bay would have moved within 1 1/2 games of Baltimore with a win Wednesday night, but the Rays fell 8-3 to the Angels and slipped 2 1/2 games behind the Orioles.

When Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash was informed his staff's 19 strikeouts of Los Angeles batters tied the club record for a nine-inning game, the disappointment of not capitalizing on the AL East leader's earlier setback was evident in his answer.

"Tonight's probably not the night to celebrate tying any record," Cash replied sternly.

With starting pitchers Shane McClanahan, Jeffrey Springs and Drew Rasmussen lost for the season due to injuries and Tyler Glasnow having missed the season's first two months due to an oblique ailment, Eflin has been the Rays' most reliable, durable starter throughout.

Over a team-high 29 starts, the right-hander has set career highs in wins (American League-leading 15), innings (167 2/3), strikeouts (172), hits per nine innings (7.9) and walks per nine innings (1.2).


Among starting pitchers, Eflin tops the majors in WHIP (1.014).

In two career starts against the Angels, the 29-year-old is 2-0 with a stellar 0.64 ERA. In 14 innings vs. Los Angeles, Eflin has allowed just nine hits in 51 at-bats (.177) and only one run -- a solo homer by former Rays outfielder Hunter Renfroe on Aug. 19 in Anaheim, Calif. Eflin won that contest with six strong innings.

The Angels (69-83) got a powerful performance from Brandon Drury while breaking their six-game losing streak on Wednesday.

Batting as the team's designated hitter, the 31-year-old veteran stroked a three-run homer in the second inning and added a two-run shot in the sixth.

"(My offense) has been streaky," said Drury, whose five RBIs were one shy of his career best. "I'd been struggling a little bit, so tonight felt good. (The DH spot) is fine. I just want to get at-bats."

In the Thursday finale, Los Angeles will try to even the season series at 3-3, which would prevent the Rays from clinching their seventh straight winning campaign vs. the Angels.

Griffin Canning (7-7, 4.42 ERA) will make his 21st start and 23rd appearance of 2023 for Los Angeles. In three September starts, the 27-year-old right-hander is 0-3 with a 4.67 ERA.

Over three lifetime appearances (two starts) against the Rays, he is 1-1 with a 4.40 ERA. He got a victory in relief against Tampa Bay on Aug. 19, when he tossed 3 1/3 innings of one-run ball.

--Field Level Media

Los Angeles Angels
Tampa Bay Rays

Los Angeles Angels vs. Tampa Bay Rays Recap SEP 21TH 2023

Manuel Margot delivered a game-ending two-out RBI single to right field in the ninth inning as the Tampa Bay Rays rallied to defeat the Los Angeles Angels 5-4 on Thursday afternoon at St. Petersburg, Fla.

Trailing 4-3 in the ninth, Tampa Bay (94-60) tied the score off Los Angeles closer Carlos Estevez (5-5) when Isaac Paredes hit an RBI single with one out.

After a strikeout and a walk to load the bases, Margot hit a broken-bat flair a 1-2 slider into shallow right to score Yandy Diaz and end the game.

By winning four of six against the Angels (69-84) in 2023, the Rays earned their seventh straight win in the season series.

Diaz was 2-for-3 with two walks and two runs. Paredes and Margot (stolen base) had two hits and two RBIs apiece.

Rays starter Zach Eflin, who leads the American League with 15 wins, gave up two runs and six hits over fine innings in a no-decsion. He had 10 strikeouts, one off his season high, and one walk.

Andrew Kittredge (2-0) earned the win with a scoreless ninth.

The Angels' Jo Adell went 2-for-3 with a homer. Jared Walsh had a single, reached on a hit by pitch and scored twice. Randal Grichuk (double) and Michael Stefanic each had two hits.

After dropping an 8-3 decision Wednesday night, the Rays saw their first three batters reach base in the opening inning while scoring the first run.

Following Diaz's leadoff walk and Brandon Lowe's hit by pitch, Paredes ripped a double inside the left-field line for a 1-0 lead.

Eflin had seven strikeouts through 3 2/3 innings, including four consecutive, when Walsh singled hard off the pitcher's right thigh. David Fletcher's single scored Walsh, with Adell scoring on the play after right fielder Josh Lowe's fielding error.

The Rays tied the game 2-2 in their half of the fourth on Jonathan Aranda's RBI groundout.

Against reliever Shawn Armstrong, Adell crushed a high four-seam fastball for his second homer, a two-run shot in the sixth inning. It was the Angels' American League-leading 221st home run.

After Lowe's walk and 31st stolen base in the sixth, the Rays chipped away on Margot's double to cut the deficit to 4-3. Following Margot's steal of third with one out, Angels reliever Jose Marte retired Aranda (strikeout) and Rene Pinto (long flyout).

--Field Level Media