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American League Preview from The Sports Network



Sunday, July 29th (All times eastern)

Tampa Bay Rays (52-49) at LA Angels of Anaheim (55-46), 3:35 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Tampa Bay - Jeremy Hellickson (5-6, 3.42) LA Angels - Zack Greinke (9-3, 3.44)

(Sports Network) - Zack Greinke makes his debut for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on Sunday when they close out a three-game set with the Tampa Bay Rays at Angel Stadium.

Back in the American League after starting his career in Kansas City in 2004 before moving to Milwaukee in 2011, Greinke was acquired by the Halos on Friday.

Greinke started off the 2012 campaign quite strong with a record of 9-2, but since defeating Cincinnati a little over a month ago the right-hander has failed to tally another victory and has just one loss to show for five total appearances.

On Tuesday the Florida native pitched against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park and held the hosts in-check through seven innings, allowing just one run on three hits and striking out five. However, the Phils put on a late run and eventually captured a 7-6 win even as Greinke lowered his ERA to 3.44.

Having spent so much time in the AL previously, Greinke is somewhat familiar with the Rays, although his 12 appearances against the club resulted in just a 2-4 record.

Like everyone else in the American League East, the Rays continue to chase the New York Yankees in the division standings and need to pick up victories everywhere they can. Last night Tampa Bay snapped a brief two-game slide by posting a 3-0 triumph against the Angels, which means the club is now tied with Baltimore for second in the division, 8 1/2 games out of contention.

The Rays scored single runs in each of the first three innings and tightened their belts on defense to keep the Angels from making a charge.

Ben Zobrist hit his 12th home run of the season and knocked in two runs for the visitors, while B.J. Upton accounted for half his team's four hits.

On the mound, Matt Moore pitched a gem as he allowed just four hits and two walks, striking out six over the course of 6 1/3 shutout innings. In all, Tampa pitchers registered 11 strikeouts, one coming from Fernando Rodney in the ninth as he posted his 29th save of the season.

Over on the other side, C.J. Wilson dropped to 9-7 in 2012 as he gave up the three runs, although only two were earned, over the course of 6 2/3 innings. The hurler surrendered just four hits, walked three and struck out seven in the setback.

Torii Hunter reached base three times for the hosts and accounted for two of his team's five hits. Bobby Wilson, one of four to strike out twice in the meeting, logged a double for the team's lone extra-base hit.

"Moore's got great stuff, but we've beaten a lot of guys this year," C.J. Wilson said. "So you just always have that optimism that the team's going to score and come up with hits, but obviously in those situations we didn't get the big hit. They scratched out that run in the first inning and that was all they needed after that. So it's more frustrating."

Ironically enough, while the Angels were the ones having trouble reaching base and mounting any sort of offensive attack on Saturday, it is Tampa Bay that actually ranks last in the AL in total bases and is second-to-last in slugging (.373) at this stage of the season.

Getting the call for Tampa Bay today will be Iowa native Jeremy Hellickson as he attempts to win back-to-back games for the first time since the middle of May. The right-hander actually started off the season with a 4-0 mark, but after that he suffered six consecutive setbacks and only recently was able to celebrate his fifth win of the campaign.

On Tuesday Hellickson was pitted against Baltimore on the road and surrendered just one run on three hits, while striking out four through 6 1/3 innings as the Rays slipped by the O's, 3-1.

Now in his third professional season, Hellickson won his previous outing against the Angels as he gave up one runs on five hits and struck out five through six innings. The victory evened his career record versus Anaheim at 1-1, his ERA over three games leveling out at 3.29.

Tampa Bay is dominating the season series to this point, winning four of the first five matchups against the Angels and partly because of that, Anaheim now finds itself in third place in the AL West, trailing both Texas and Oakland entering play on Sunday.

07/29 10:22:15 ET