Rangers riding high

The Texas Rangers (56-37) still have plenty of games left against the Los Angeles Angels (51-44), but they’ve built a nice cushion atop the AL West.

The Rangers may have a chance to make their lead a season-high seven games Sunday night when Matt Harrison looks to become the AL’s second 13-game winner (8:05 p.m. EDT).

The Angels opened as -115 home favorites and the total checked in at 8 (Source: SportsOptions).

With 10 games left against the Angels following Sunday’s matchup, there could still be plenty of movement at the top of the West standings.

The Rangers, though, are securely in the driver’s seat after rebounding from Friday’s 6-1 series-opening loss with a 9-2 victory Saturday. That got their lead over Los Angeles back to six games, with surging Oakland 6 1/2 back before the Athletics face the New York Yankees earlier Sunday.

Texas won for the sixth time in nine games overall as Ian Kinsler went deep and drove in three runs, Yorvit Torrealba finished a triple shy of the cycle and Mike Napoli hit a pair of solo homers.

Napoli, 5 for 8 in the series, is batting .434 (23 for 53) with eight homers in 14 games in Anaheim since the Angels traded him away before last season.

“Just catching all these guys, I have an idea of what they like to do, but they’re going to try to attack my weaknesses and mix things up,” he said. “I go in there knowing they’re going to be tough on me.”

Harrison (12-4, 2.87 ERA) continues to be tough on opponents. He’ll look to tie Tampa Bay’s David Price for the AL lead in wins and send the Angels to their seventh loss in 10 games since the All-Star break.

The left-hander is 8-1 with a 1.34 ERA in his last 10 starts, including a five-hitter in last Sunday’s 4-0 victory at Seattle. It was Harrison’s second shutout of 2012 and the fourth of his career.

“His confidence is high and he has a real presence on the mound,” third baseman Adrian Beltre told the Rangers’ official website. “We feel comfortable when he’s out there and gets going. We love the way he’s throwing.”

Beltre should feel comfortable in the batter’s box against Sunday’s scheduled Angels starter Dan Haren (6-8, 4.86), who is expected to be removed from the disabled list (lower back stiffness) to make his first start in 19 days.

Beltre, who hit one of the Rangers’ five homers Saturday, is 24 for 55 (.436) with 11 extra-base hits against Haren, who posted an 8.67 ERA in his last five starts before going on the DL for the first time in his 10-year career.

The right-hander will face the Rangers for the second time this season after throwing five innings of two-run ball in a 7-3 home loss June 3, his third straight losing start against Texas.

Harrison went 6 2-3 innings in that contest to pick up the win. He has allowed just one hit in nine matchups with AL batting leader Mike Trout.

The 20-year-old outfielder has been on a tear, going 18 for 43 (.419) with four homers during a 10-game hitting streak to lift his batting average to .354. With a run Sunday, Trout would set the Angels record and the AL rookie mark by scoring in 14 consecutive games.

Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus will try to extend his hitting streak to 10. He’s batting .375 (12 for 32) versus Angels pitching this season.

Josh Hamilton looks to push his modest hit streak to five after going 1 for 5 on Saturday. He’s still batting just .180 (9 for 50) in July.

These clubs have split eight games this season.

Leave a reply:

Your email address will not be published.