ANAHEIM, Calif. – Doubling down on their innovativeness and starting veteran reliever Sergio Romo for a second straight day worked out fine for the Rays on Sunday.
It was the less effective pitchers who followed, and the ineffectiveness of their hitters to get much going against Angels starter Shohei Ohtani, that led to the 5-2 loss that ended their winning streak at six and dropped them back under .500 at 22-23.
Romo, used as the game "opener" again against an all right-handed Angels lineup, retired four of the six batters he faced before being replaced by Matt Andriese in the second.
But unlike Saturday, where Ryan Yarbrough followed Romo and cruised into eighth, Andriese got into trouble in the fourth, his own misplay on a comebacker leading to two Angels runs, erasing the lead from Johnny Field's homer.
The error was followed by a walk and a wild pitch, putting Angels on third and second. Angels manager Mike Scioscia countered the Rays pitching machinations by pinch-hitting lefty Luis Valbuena, and his ground out scored one run.
The Rays then went to lefty Jose Alvarado, who was not sharp either. A sac fly got in the second run of the fourth, then a couple of walks (with Mike Trout stealing second and third) led to a third run on another sac fly.
The Angels added on with single runs in the seventh and eighth off Anthony Banda. The Rays got one back in the eighth when Field doubled off Ohtani, move up on a wild pitch and scored on a ground out.
The Rays got the two runs on six hits off Ohtani, the two-way sensation they hotly pursued this winter, who got stronger as he went, working 7 2/3 innings on 110 pitches.
The Rays headed home, finally, after the game, having played 11 games in 10 days on the third of four consecutive three-city trips to open the season.
They'll open a series with the rival Red Sox on Tuesday at the Trop, host the Orioles over the weekend, then after Sunday's game head right back to the west coast for a nine-game, 10-day country-crossing journey to Oakland, Seattle and Washington, D.C.
Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected]. Follow @TBTimes_Rays