As the Texas Rangers head to the stadium of the Los Angeles Angels in Anaheim, California, to open up a three-game series while extending their 11-game winning streak to 12 games and keeping the Angels from putting a dampen in the Rangers’ four-game lead in the AL West, you can expect both teams to fight hard from the first to the last inning of each of these three games in order to make a statement.
The Rangers and Angels have split their two series that were both held in Arlington with the Rangers taking three and the Angels taking three. However, the Rangers weren’t nearly as up to speed and red-hot at the plate and on the mound as they are now. For one, the team was without Josh Hamilton, who has 12 RBIs during this 11-game streak. It seems as though Ian Kinsler, who leads the team in OBP at .365 (which by the way is exactly what he should as the lead-off hitter), has finally found his groove as he is current hitting .326 with three home runs and 10 scored runs. Adrian Beltre has drove in 10 runs and has hit four home runs. Beltre leads the Rangers in RBIs (72). Michael Young, who has been the Rangers’ most consistent hitter leads in batting average (.321) and hits (120), has eight RBIs.
Last year, the Rangers also won 11 in a row; however, the difference between then and now is that the 11-game streak in 2010 proved that the Rangers were contenders for the AL division title – which they went on to win the AL title and go to the World Series – whereas the 11-game winning streak this year simply shows that they can uphold their dominance from last year. They’ve been contenders all year, it didn’t just happen with this winning streak.
The Rangers have a tough matchup tonight and for the next two days, but the Rangers know their potential and I don’t expect them to allow this three-game set against their closest competition to close the gap between the clubs much if at all. The Angels have been productive – especially in the month prior to the All-Star break, but weren’t so great this last weekend when they played the Oakland A’s. Their offense is going to have to step by up to where it was last month if they plan to make any progress against the hot Rangers pitching rotation as they have only permitted two runs in nearly 50 innings.
RHP Tyler Chatwood (whose birthday is December 16, the same as mine!) starts for the Angels tonight and is 5-5 for the season with a 3.62 ERA. The young 21-year-old has had his ups and downs allowing five runs here then allowing no runs then four then one. Last time out was against Detroit when he allowed two runs on four hits over 5.1 innings and prior to that he allowed 12 hits in five innings but only four runs. His two prior starts (June 19 and 25), he allowed no runs to the Mets in seven innings and just one run to Dodgers in seven innings. While Chatwood has a great sinker that he likes to throw, he gets a lot of walks. In fact, prior to being skipped in the rotation and being sent down to Triple-A, he had given the most walks in the AL – now he is in second. But, I mean, he has 52 walks AND 52 strikes for the first half of the season of 17 starts and 99.1 innings.
The Rangers will counter with RHP Alexi Ogando, who is 9-3 on the season with a 2.92 ERA. Impressive in his first All-Star start by retiring both batters that he faced, Ogando will look to continue his dominant season against the Angels. His last start was against the Baltimore O’s when he held them to three runs on four hits over seven innings in a 13-5 victory for Texas. He has made just one career start against the LA Angels, which was in the middle of May at which time he got the win allowing just one run in 6.1 innings as did his team 4-1.
Pitchers vs. Hitters
RHP Tyler Chatwood: None of the Texas players have met Chatwood. However, the offensive side of the Rangers is sizzling and I don’t see that letting up tonight.
RHP Alexi Ogando: Most of the Angels got a hit (or none) in three at-bats against Ogando earlier this year, but it was Alberto Callaspo who went 2-for-4. Erick Aybar has a home run against Ogando while Torii Hunter has no hits in six at-bats and Howard Kendrick is 1-for-7. No one is hot right now – against Ogando or in general.