Texas nears home-field advantage

Adrian Beltre and the Texas Rangers are trying to maintain their momentum ahead of the playoffs later this week.¬†They’ve already made sure the Los Angeles Angels won’t be taking part in the postseason.

Beltre looks to continue his stunning surge for the Rangers, who may have a chance to clinch the second-best record in the AL when they face the Angels on Tuesday night.

Most sports books monitored by SportsOptions have Texas as a small $1.10 road underdog, with the total set at 7 1/2 ‘over’ (minus $1.20).

Beltre is hitting .367 with 27 RBIs in 22 games since returning from a hamstring strain that landed him on the disabled list July 23. During Texas’ current 12-4 run, the third baseman has batted .403 with all 11 of his homers since returning to go with 22 RBIs.

He maintained his torrid pace with a two-run homer in a 4-3 win over Los Angeles (86-74) on Monday, which eliminated the Angels from contention.

“We get no pleasure in (eliminating the Angels),” manager Ron Washington said. “Our pleasure is just in continuing to win ballgames and move forward.”

With two games remaining, Beltre will try to help AL West champion Texas (94-66) secure the second-best mark in the league. The Rangers are one game ahead of Central champ Detroit, which holds the tiebreaker by virtue of winning the season series.

A Rangers win and Tigers loss to Cleveland would clinch the better record for Texas, giving it home-field advantage in the division series against Boston or Tampa Bay. In that case, the Tigers would visit league-best New York on Friday.

Washington, though, doesn’t want earning home field in the first round to be his team’s priority.

“I think we all want to be at home (for the division series), but not at the expense of making sure we’re ready Friday,” he said.

Beltre has batted .338 with nine homers and 25 RBIs in his last 20 games against the Angels.

Colby Lewis (13-10, 4.45 ERA) takes the mound looking to conclude his regular season in strong fashion. He has gone 0-2 with a 3.90 ERA in his last five starts against Los Angeles – four of which ended in Rangers defeats.

The right-hander’s most recent effort against the Angels may have been his worst of that stretch, even though Texas won that Aug. 28 game 9-5. He allowed five runs and eight hits, including a homer to Howie Kendrick, in six innings and didn’t get a decision.

Lewis pitched well Thursday, allowing three runs and four hits with seven strikeouts in 6 1-3 innings, but Texas lost 4-3 at Oakland. He gave up his league-leading 35th homer in the contest, the most by a Rangers pitcher since Rick Helling allowed 38 in 2001.

The Angels, losers of four of five, will give the ball to Ervin Santana (11-12, 3.38).

Each of the right-hander’s last four outings have ended in defeat for Los Angeles, with Santana going 0-3 with a 4.32 ERA in that stretch. He allowed two runs in six innings despite five walks Thursday, but the Angels fell 4-3 in 12 innings at Toronto.

Santana has gone 1-2 with a 5.96 ERA in four starts against Texas this year, winning the most recent one Aug. 27. He allowed four runs in seven innings of an 8-4 road victory.

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