MLB

Sat, Sep 28, 2013 - 12:05 PM ET
 

Angels-Rangers Preview

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The surging Texas Rangers are trying to gain a share of one - or both - of the AL's wild-card spots.

They don't have to wait long to continue their pursuit.

With rain in the forecast in Arlington, the Rangers will take the field Saturday morning as they try to extend their longest home winning streak over the Los Angeles Angels in 35 years.

Texas (89-71) has won five in a row to match its total from the previous 20 games to tighten the playoff race. The Rangers trail wild-card co-leaders Cleveland and Tampa Bay by one game with two to play. The Indians are in Minnesota, while the Rays are visiting Toronto.

"These last two games are going to be exciting. We definitely bettered our chances," closer Joe Nathan said.

Alex Rios has been a reason for that, going 7 for 19 with seven RBIs, five runs and three stolen bases over the last five games. The right fielder had a go-ahead, run-scoring single in the seventh inning of Friday's 5-3 win over the Angels (78-82).

Both teams will have a quick turnaround with Saturday's game starting at 11:05 a.m. CDT - the earliest start in the 20-season history of Rangers Ballpark.

The game was originally scheduled to start at 7:05 p.m., but a change was made with the forecast calling for moderate showers and thunderstorms in the area by early Saturday afternoon and increasing in intensity throughout the day.

"Wake-up call early,'' Texas manager Ron Washington said before Friday's game. "I know they're expecting rain, so we've got to do what we have to do to make sure we get the game in. I certainly don't want to play a doubleheader on Sunday.''

The Rangers are 13-4 against Los Angeles this year, and have won seven of eight home meetings, including six in a row for their longest winning streak in the all-time series since reeling off nine straight as host bridging 1977 and '78.

Derek Holland (10-9, 3.33 ERA) is scheduled to take the mound, but he's failed to last beyond the sixth inning in each of his last three starts against the Angels, going 0-1 with an 8.31 ERA. He gave up eight runs in 5 2-3 innings of an 8-3 road loss to the Angels on Sept. 7.

The left-hander, however, is coming off his second shutout of the season. He tossed a six-hitter while striking out nine in Monday's 12-0 win over Houston - his first victory in nine outings.

Another win may require improving against Mike Trout and Mark Trumbo.

Trout is 9 for 25 (.360) with two homers and two doubles off Holland, while Trumbo has homered four times on seven hits in 23 at-bats over the past two years.

Both of them enter this meeting scuffling at the plate. Trout, third in the AL with a .323 average, is 3 for 21 with 10 strikeouts in six games, while Trumbo is 3 for 32 in his last nine.

The Angels, assured of their second losing season in 10 years, are expected to send Garrett Richards (7-7, 4.09) to the mound in the hopes that he can rebound from one of his worst performances of the season.

The right-hander was pounded for a season high-tying seven runs and eight hits - two homers - in 4 2-3 innings of Monday's 10-5 loss to Oakland. That was a tremendous departure from going 3-0 with a 2.10 ERA over his previous four starts.

"It's part of a learning curve," manager Mike Scioscia told the team's official website. "It's part of a guy getting his first opportunity."

Richards was impressive against the Rangers on Sept. 7, yielding two runs in seven innings of an 8-3 victory.

Tagged: Angels, Rangers, Mark Trumbo

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