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Rivalry Roundup: Angels club the Rays in Anaheim

Shohei Ohtani is pretty good at this sport.

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Los Angeles Angels Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Mondays can be a pretty hit-or-miss day for baseball, with last night definitely falling into the “miss” category. Just one of the Yankees’ “rivals”, as we’ve designated them, were on the field last night, with the Rays taking on the white-hot Angels.

The Yankees took care of their own business early in the day, topping the Rangers 1-0, but despite a terrific start to the season, both the Rays and Jays are looking like tough opponents for the entire run.

Tampa Bay Rays (18-12) vs. LA Angels (20-11)

The Yankees were the first team in the AL to record 20 wins, but only by a few hours, as the powerful core of the Angels lineup beat the Rays down in an 11-3 win out West.

Randy Arozarena hasn’t quite lived up to his torrid 2020 debut, but he opened the scoring at Angels Ballpark with his first dinger of the season:

Randy’s biggest problem this year has been his launch angle — at just 2.9 degrees, he’s just not generating enough lift in his swing to do real damage to the ball. It’s one reason why even though he’s cut down on his strikeouts, he’s got just an 88 wRC+ entering play yesterday. Hitting the ball in the air matters.

After that long ball, though, it was all Angels. Jared Walsh, Mike Trout, and Shohei Ohtani all went deep over the next two innings. I personally felt Walsh’s was the most aesthetically pleasing, a moonshot to deep center that just looks so good with the rocks and trees out there:

I’m not quite ready to say that this Angels team is different than the perennial 80-win team we’re all used to seeing. The bullpen is much deeper, they are getting some real support from players outside of the Big Three, and the rotation is better than you’d think. Still, there’s a certain track record with this club that they let teams get back in.

Well, Ohtani wasn’t super interested in letting the Rays back in this one:

That’s a grand slam, to left field, on a cutter biting down and in. Dude’s pretty good.

The Yankees picked up a full game in the AL East standings, now leading the Rays by 3.5. If you asked A-Rod, he’d probably say something about how you always want a division lead by half games instead of full games, but if you ask me, as much distance between us and them as possible is the goal, especially when the Yankees have yet to play the Rays this year.