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Rays notes: Howell, Peralta pitch well in Anaheim

Staff
Published:   |   Updated: March 21, 2013 at 04:29 PM
BALTIMORE -

LHP J.P. Howell and RHP Joel Peralta bounced back nicely during the Tampa Bay Rays' sweep of the Angels in Anaheim, Calif.

Howell entered Tuesday's game in the seventh inning with a runner on third, one out and the Rays leading 3-1. He proceeded to end the threat with a pair of strikeouts.

Peralta pitched a perfect eighth inning in that game and had another perfect inning during Wednesday's win.

"I know they had a little bump in the road, and that's going to happen," manager Joe Maddon said. "They're not going to be perfect all year. You're going to have different moments. The thing I like about those two guys is I'm very confident after the bad moment they're going to come back and do something good. It's not going to cause them to wilt and go away."

Peralta, who allowed a two-run homer and a three-run homer to Miguel Olivo over the weekend in Seattle, said finding his groove was easy. He joked that he wasn't facing Olivo.

Actually, he said, it was a matter of throwing strikes.

"I go out there and work ahead and I know good things will happen to me," he said.

For Howell, it might have been a return to the past. He finished off several pitches with a pirouette, forcing himself to stick his glove hand on the mound for balance. The Rays tried to get him to stop doing that. Yet by nearly falling, Howell had his best outing since returning from shoulder surgery.

Howell said he also used a little mind game he likes to play when he's on the mound.

"I wanted to feel like I was dominating this whole time, that's how I did it. I can trick myself into believing that," he said. "All day I play mind games with myself, and definitely during a game when I've been struggling I can trick myself into believing I'm doing really well."

Ruggiano getting hot

OF Justin Ruggiano said he wore out the Rays coaching staff with early batting practice and swings in the cage so he could maintain the swing that produced a .308 batting average while he was with Triple-A Durham.

It showed in Anaheim, where he had a pair of two-hit games, slugged his first home run of the season and tied a career high with three RBIs in Monday's win.

The closer?

On Wednesday, Maddon said why he's hesitant to call RHP Kyle Farnsworth his closer, and that's because Farnsworth doesn't act like one.

He doesn't mind pitching in the eighth inning, and he doesn't mind coming on in the ninth in a non-save situation.

Still, Farnsworth is every bit the closer.

On Wednesday, he converted his 13th save in 14 save opportunities and lowered his ERA to 1.17. His ERA is the lowest among any closer in the majors and is the third-lowest among all relievers.

Noteworthy

Wednesday's victory gave the Rays their first sweep of the Angels in Anaheim and only their second sweep in California. They also swept the Padres in 2004. … 3B Evan Longoria, who did not start Wednesday because of the effects of a stomach virus that pushed his temperature to 102 on Tuesday, entered in the 10th inning as a pinch-hitter and reached on an infield single. That's two hits for Longoria in two pinch-hit appearances on this trip. … The Rays are 4-3 on this 11-game, four-city, cross-country trip. … Rays starters have pitched at least seven innings in 31 games, tying them with the Phillies for the most in the majors. … Johnny Damon has reached safely in 34 straight games. That's the longest streak of his career and the longest current streak in the majors.

Roger Mooney

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