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What's new: The Angels (54-45) entered Thursday tied for the wild-card lead, having rebounded from early season struggles. They've been sparked by rookie OF Mike Trout, who leads the league in batting average (.356), runs (94) and steals (31), and RF/3B Mark Trumbo (27 homers). 1B Albert Pujols looks more like his old self, with 15 homers and 43 RBIs in his last 55 games, though he has been nursing a bruised right elbow. The Angels entered Thursday second in the league with a .277 average and have 30 homers this month.
Key stat: 2B Howie Kendrick's .396 career average against Tampa Bay is the best among active players.
Connections: RHPs Fernando Rodney, Joel Peralta, C Jose Molina and first-base coach George Hendrick are former Angels. Rays manager Joe Maddon spent 31 seasons in the organization, including 12 on the big-league staff. Angels RHP Jason Isringhausen is an ex-Ray, and C Bobby Wilson is a St. Petersburg College product. Pitching coach Mike Butcher held the same position for the Rays in 2006.
Series history: The Rays swept a three-game series at Tropicana Field (April 24-26) and have won seven of the past nine meetings. The Angels lead the all-time series 78-52, including 42-21 in Anaheim, Calif.
Joe Smith, Times staff writer