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
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