ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — The Tampa Ray Rays have been the victim of both of C.J. Wilson’s major league shutouts – and both of Grant Green’s big league home runs.
Wilson held the Rays to five hits and Green went deep against reliever Brandon Gomes, leading the Los Angeles Angels to a 6-0 victory over the Rays on Saturday night.
Wilson has made 80 starts since his previous shutout and complete game on Sept. 6, 2011, while pitching for Texas. The former Rangers reliever was converted into a starter in 2010, and has gone the distance seven times in 149 career starts.
Green’s only other homer in 174 career at-bats was a solo shot against Josh Lueke at Angel Stadium as a pinch-hitter for Erick Aybar on Sept. 2, 2013.
Lueke was brought in to face Mike Trout with the bases loaded in the sixth and struck him out before retiring Albert Pujols on a fielder’s choice grounder to short for the third out.
“That was really impressive,” manager Joe Maddon said. “That inning and two-thirds that he pitched was about as good as we’ve seen him. The fastball velocity, the breaking pitches, location, heartbeat – everything was really good. We’ve been throwing him out there a lot and he’s got really good stuff, which you saw tonight. Hopefully, he’s going to able to carry that over.”
The same couldn’t be said for Cesar Ramos (1-3). The left-hander lasted only 35 pitches, getting charged with four runs and four hits through 1 1-3 innings in his seventh start since he was inserted into the rotation to replace the injured Matt Moore.
Howie Kendrick, who came in with a .363 career average against Tampa Bay, opened the scoring in the first with an RBI single and Aybar hit a bases-loaded sacrifice fly two batters later.
In the second, Ramos plunked No. 9 hitter Luis Jimenez just below the left knee with a pitch that bounced on the grass first – the first batter the left-hander hit in his first 35 1-3 innings this season. Collin Cowgill followed with a sharp single to the right of shortstop Yunel Escobar and continued to second on rookie center fielder Kevin Kiermaier’s ill-advised throw to third.
Maddon lifted Ramos at that point and brought in Gomes, who gave up Trout’s sacrifice fly and an opposite-field ground-rule double by Pujols that landed just inside the right field line after a long run by Wil Myers.
“The bounced hit batter, I was kind of concerned about that – and I thought it was really important to keep it where it was,” Maddon said. “In general, we just have not been hitting lefties well. And if you look at Wilson’s overall numbers against the guys in this particular lineup, I didn’t see us scoring a whole lot of runs against him.”
Wilson (5-3) threw 127 pitches, struck out five and escaped a bases-loaded jam in the seventh by inducing his third double-play grounder of the game.
“Wilson was really good,” Maddon said. “He elevated his fastball when he wanted to, got underneath the righties with the breaking ball when he wanted to – he knows what he’s doing. He’s very competitive and he competed really well tonight.”
Two seasons ago, the Angels built an 8-0 lead for Wilson against Tampa Bay before he allowed seven runs in the fifth inning and ended up with a no-decision as the Rays won 10-8 at Angel Stadium. This time, there would be no comeback.
“They’re a weird team,” Wilson said. “They swing the bats and they’re very aggressive – but sometimes when they’re ahead in the count, they won’t chase anything. So you have to throw really, really good strikes.”
The two-time All-Star has made 80 starts since his previous shutout and complete game, which was at Fort Lauderdale, Florida on Sept. 6, 2011, while pitching for Texas.
Rays RBI leader James Loney grounded into inning-ending double play in the seventh. He appeared in his 200th regular-season game with the Rays, and is averaging an RBI for every two games he’s played for them. Loney came in batting a major league-best .338 on the road since the start of last season.
NOTES: The official time of game was 2 hours and 59 minutes – only the second time in the Rays’ last 19 games that they finished in under 3 hours. … Ramos was born in Los Angeles and played his college ball at Long Beach State, where he was in the same rotation with Angels RHP Jered Weaver. The left side of the team’s infield comprised of Evan Longoria and Troy Tulowitzki, who shared an apartment with Ramos during his junior year. … Kiermaier, who was recalled from Triple-A Durham after CF Desmond Jennings went on the bereavement list following Friday night’s loss, singled in the sixth for his first major league hit. … Pujols’ RBI double ended an RBI drought of nine games and 39 at-bats by the two-time NL MVP since his run-scoring single against the Yankees’ Shawn Kelley on May 6 at Angel Stadium.