Rangers-Angels Preview

The Los Angeles Angels’ best run of the season has them as close

to the AL West lead as they’ve been in nearly two months.

The Texas Rangers still hold that spot, but they’re heading in

the wrong direction.

Dan Haren will try to win his third consecutive start Sunday

when the Angels go for their first sweep of the Rangers since


Last in the West on May 21 – and eight games back of Texas

(31-22) – the Angels (28-26) have since won 10 of 11 to close

within 3 1/2 games of the two-time defending AL champs, who have

lost a season-high four straight.

Los Angeles, a season-best two games above .500 following

Saturday’s 3-2 victory, hasn’t been this close to the lead since it

was 3 1/2 behind the Rangers on April 14.

The Angels will try to continue their push up the standings –

and earn their first sweep of Texas since Sept. 28-30, 2009 – with

Haren (3-5, 3.52 ERA) facing Texas for the first time in 2012.

Sunday was originally supposed to be Jered Weaver’s turn in the

rotation, but after the Angels ace went on the disabled list

Tuesday with a lower back strain, Haren will be working on normal


Since posting a 5.79 ERA while losing a career high-tying four

consecutive starts, the three-time All-Star has allowed one run in

16 innings over his last two outings. He’s struck out 21 and walked

none during that stretch after fanning seven in seven innings of

one-run ball in Tuesday’s 5-1 victory over the New York


Haren went 0-2 with a 6.29 ERA in four starts against Texas in

2011, but he’ll now be facing a Rangers team trying to avoid its

first five-game skid since June 11-16 – its longest losing streak

of 2011.

Texas might be able to snap out of its current funk by playing

better defense. The Rangers have committed 14 errors in their last

13 games and have allowed 30 unearned runs – 27 since May 1 – to

tie San Francisco for the most in the majors.

“You’ll see tomorrow if I made a difference,” manager Ron

Washington said after holding a closed-door meeting following

Saturday’s game. “So much happened out there that was totally

uncharacteristic of what we are, and it just opened up

opportunities for the Angels to get some runs on the board.”

Third baseman Adrian Beltre committed one of the Rangers’ three

errors Saturday and his 10-game hitting streak ended as he struck

out a career high-tying four times, but he should have plenty of

confidence stepping in against Haren. Beltre is 24 for 53 (.453)

with three homers, a triple and seven doubles off Haren. It’s the

most hits by Beltre off any pitcher, as well as the most Haren has

surrendered to any hitter.

Opponents haven’t had much success lately against scheduled

Rangers starter Matt Harrison (6-3, 4.41), who will try to match a

season high by winning a third consecutive start.

The left-hander has a 1.80 ERA in his last two outings after

throwing eight innings of two-run ball in Monday’s 4-2 victory over


Harrison, though, is 1-2 with a 5.34 ERA in five career starts

against the Angels after giving up all of the runs in a 4-2 home

loss May 12.

Mark Trumbo, who hit a two-run home run off Harrison in that

game – Los Angeles’ lone victory during last month’s three-game set

in Arlington – is 0 for 8 in this weekend’s series after homering

in each of his previous four games.

Angels outfielder Mike Trout is 4 for 8 with three RBIs in this

series and batting .421 (8 for 19) off Rangers pitching in


Texas hasn’t been swept on the road since last June 14-16

against the Yankees.

The Angels have won 13 of 19 at home since opening 2-5 in