Tampa Bay is in position of picking up its first ever sweep of the Los Angeles Angels in Anaheim, as the club went 8-42 in games played in Southern California from 2000-09.  The Rays clobbered the home team in 10-3 fashion last night in front of 43,577 fans and kept pace with the New York Yankees in the AL East race.  All-Star third baseman Evan Longoria produced a 3-for-5 performance and hit his 19th home run of the season.  He has a career .409 average with four home runs and 13 RBIs in 11 games played in Anaheim.  The club is 14-9 this month (+190) and 50-28 in August over the past three years (+1,350), while the total is 11-12 O/U in this year’s situation.  The Rays are also an intimidating 25-14 in day games this season (+760) and an even more impressive 21-9 after three or more consecutive wins (+830).

Rays starting pitcher Jeff Niemann is 10-3 with a 3.12 ERA in 22 starts this season and is making his first appearance since going on the disabled list on August 4.  He comes into this contest on a two-game winning streak, allowing seven runs and 16 hits over 13 innings of work.  The right-hander is a solid 5-1 with a 3.43 ERA in 10 road starts, issuing 20 walks and compiling 48 strikeouts in 65.2 frames.  Niemann will be making just his fifth daytime start of the season, producing a 2-1 record and 5.18 ERA compared to an 8-2 record and 2.69 ERA in 18 nighttime outings.  In three career games versus the Angels, the third-year starter is 1-0 with a 5.51 ERA.  Tampa Bay has won nine of Niemann’s 10 starts away from home.

Los Angeles is now 10 games back in the American League West race and will need to go 28-7 in order to reach the 90-win plateau this season.  “We’re going to see what this group’s made of,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.  The Angels have dropped four of their last five contests and seven of nine.  The team still holds a 41-18 advantage over the Rays at Angels Stadium, which is the club’s best home record versus any opponent.  It’s also important to state that Scioscia is 4-0 all-time in the seasons series versus Tampa manager Joe Maddon.  Los Angeles is a disappointing 9-13 in August (-440) and the total is 10-11 O/U in those contests.  When playing after three or more consecutive losses, the Angels are 7-7 this year (+50) and 16-9 in this spot over the last three seasons (+680).

Angels starting pitcher Dan Haren is 8-12 with a 4.55 ERA in 27 starts this season, which includes a 1-4 mark and 4.39 ERA as a member of his current team.  The right-hander has issued just five walks and struck out 27 batters in 47 innings with Los Angeles since being traded from Arizona.  He has a 6-7 record and 3.97 ERA in 15 home starts this season, as opponents are hitting for a combined .270 average.  In seven career games versus the Rays, Haren has posted a 4-2 mark and 2.74 ERA, managing to walk just a single batter in 49.1 frames.  He will be making his seventh daytime start this afternoon, going 1-3 with a 5.50 ERA.

Bettors will be interested in knowing that the Rays are 6-8 as a road underdog of +100 to +125 this season, while the Angels are 8-6 at home with a money line of -100 to -125.    It will be hard to ignore the home team’s 89-43 record in day games over the last three campaigns.