The Los Angeles Angels don’t seem too concerned about the race for home-field advantage throughout the postseason, but the Texas Rangers may find pleasure in spoiling their chances.
With the AL West title already secured, the Angels could continue to rest some starters in the opener of their final home series of the season Friday night against the Rangers.
Los Angeles (95-58) is returning to the playoffs for the first time in five years, and leads the chase for home-field advantage throughout by 2 1/2 games on AL East-winning Baltimore.
The Angels, though, are more worried about remaining healthy for the postseason after clinching the division crown with Wednesday’s 5-0 win over Seattle. A day later, manager Mike Scioscia rested the majority of his starters and Los Angeles fell 3-1 to the Mariners.
"We’re going to keep our edge and keep playing hard," manager Mike Scioscia told MLB’s official website. "But I don’t think it (home-field advantage) has the importance of putting guys at risk for injury."
While it’s unclear if any of the regulars will be back in the lineup, Mike Trout will be looking to further state his case to join Vladimir Guerrero (2004) and Don Baylor (1979) as the only Angels to win AL MVP honors.
Trout leads the majors with 107 RBIs and his 34 homers are a career high and among the league leaders. However, he’s batting just .226 with two home runs in 16 games against Texas this year, going 3 for 22 in six at home.
The Angels, though, have won 12 of the last 13 meetings with the major league-worst Rangers (60-92), who seem to be relishing the spoiler role.
Texas has won a season-high six straight after losing 11 of 12 and is coming off sweeps of playoff contenders Atlanta and Oakland.
After beating the A’s 7-2 on Thursday, the Rangers seem motivated to spoil the Angels’ chances at home-field advantage while winning seven in a row for the first time since last September.
"This is still a division rivalry and we’re still going to play the best we can," manager Tim Bogar told MLB’s official website. "They are still playing for home-field advantage. We’re still going after it, trying to win every game. I think other teams would appreciate what we’re doing. It’s the right thing to do."
Lisalverto Bonilla (1-0, 4.66 ERA) looks to build on a solid first career start for Texas. The right-hander, whose two previous appearances came in relief, limited the Braves to two runs over six innings and worked around four walks in Saturday’s 3-2 win.
"Sometimes I was trying to be too fine on my pitches and that’s why I have problems with my control," Bonilla said through a translator.
Los Angeles is countering with Hector Santiago (5-8, 3.55), who has failed to complete six innings in five straight starts. He gave up three runs in the second inning and couldn’t get an out in the third of Sunday’s 6-1 loss to Houston.
The left-hander was 5-0 with a 2.63 ERA over his previous 15 games – 12 starts. That includes going 2-0 with a 2.60 ERA in four matchups – three starts – versus Texas.
Adrian Beltre, one of the few veterans remaining in the Rangers’ lineup, is batting .356 versus the Angels this season and is 6 for 14 with three homers lifetime against Santiago.