Texas Rangers vs. Los Angeles Angels Series Preview

Perennial AL West contenders clash beginning on Friday, as the Los Angeles Angels host the Texas Rangers for a three-game series.

The Rangers are 3-3 so far on a pivotal road swing through Seattle, Oakland, and Los Angeles - treading water against the three teams currently ahead of them in the division standings.

The Angels continue to hold on to the first AL Wild Card, despite losing five of their last seven and watching their deficit in the AL West balloon to six games behind the A's.


Home: Los Angeles Angels (38-33, 20-14 home)

Away: Texas Rangers (35-37, 19-18 away)

Key Stat:

The Texas Rangers have been road warriors with the bats this year - second in the Majors with a .273 batting average in their opponents' houses. In contrast, the Rangers are hitting just .255 (17th) in Arlington.

Rangers Notes:

The injury bug just won't leave Texas alone.

After Prince Fielder underwent season-ending neck surgery on May 27th, the already injury-plagued Rangers were left with a gaping hole in the middle of the order.

Now, the team will have another space to fill in what is becoming a patchwork lineup for manager Ron Washington, as DH/1B Mitch Moreland will undergo reconstructive surgery on his left ankle - sidelining him for the remainder of the 2014 season as well, according to Eric Gilmore of Yahoo! Sports.

With both Fielder and Moreland out, the Rangers are currently platooning Brad Snyder and Donnie Murphy at first. The team also signed free agent first baseman Carlos Pena, a former first-round draft pick of the club, and designated him to Triple-A Round Rock.

So, the Rangers have options...just not options with as much punch as either Fielder or Moreland.

Angels Notes:

Angels manager Mike Scioscia is receiving his share of criticism as of late, as he continues to slot Raul Ibanez in the starting lineup at DH over C.J. Cron, despite the 42-year-old's .152 batting average in 163 at-bats this year.

"The bottom line is production," said Scioscia via Mike Digiovanna of the LA Times. "Nobody understands that better than Raul. He knows he needs to have better at-bats. Nobody is working harder than Raul, and we're confident he's going to contribute for us."

18 years Ibanez's junior, Cron is the Angels' top power-hitting prospect. The right-handed slugger has show the ability to buck convention, hitting righties (.308) much better than he hits lefties (.240) - meaning it may be unnecessary (and ineffective) to platoon Cron against lefties.

In all, this makes the dilemma surrounding Ibanez all the more puzzling. If the 18-year veteran continues to flounder below the Mendoza line, can Scioscia really ignore the calls to put Cron in the lineup?

What to Watch For:

Take ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball. Add Texas Rangers ace Yu Darvish (7-3, 2.39) and Angels #1 Jered Weaver (7-6, 3.67) fighting for mound supremacy.

Sprinkle in some major implications in both the AL West and the AL Wild Card races, along with some good old-fashioned "we see you 19 times a year and we're tired of you" hatred and v'oila!

You get absolute must-see TV beginning at 8pm EST.

What They're Saying About the Rangers:

Mitch Moreland scheduled for season-ending surgery (MLBTradeRumors.com)

Bullpen problems add to recurring theme (Nolan Writin')

What They're Saying About the Angels:

Scioscia shows faith in Ibanez when stats say otherwise (The Orange County Register)

Halos to face tough call when Skaggs returns (Official Site of the Angels)

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