TEXAS RANGERS (35-39)
at LOS ANGELES ANGELS (40-33)
First pitch: Sunday, 8:00 p.m. ET
Line: Texas -120, Los Angeles +110, Total: 8
American League West foes, the Rangers and Angels, send their aces to the mound in the finale of their three-game series on Sunday night.
Texas has dealt with numerous injuries all season long and has struggled with losses in seven of its past 11 contests coming into this series. The Rangers are currently in the middle of a nine-game road trip -- all against AL West opponents -- and lost their last series against the Athletics after taking the first game by a score of 14-8. They were defeated in Wednesday's rubber-match, 4-2, as OF Shin-Soo Choo provided all the offense with a two-run single. Twenty-year old 2B Rougned Odor (.302 BA) has found a nice rhythm of late and is 12-for-34 (.353) with two home runs, 6 RBI and eight runs over his past 10 contests entering Friday's action. Los Angeles comes into this three-game set losing five of its past seven games and was defeated twice in three attempts against the Indians to start the week. The Angels looked poised to earn a win on Thursday afternoon with a 3-1 lead in the 10th inning, but ended with a disappointing loss as Nick Swisher jacked a grand slam in the bottom half of the frame off closer Ernesto Frieri. OF Mike Trout (.311 BA) extended his hitting streak to 13 games on Thursday night and is 19-for-49 (.388) with seven doubles, a triple, five homers, 16 RBI and 13 runs during his streak. Each of the teamís aces will take the mound in this exciting matchup with RHP Yu Darvish (7-3, 2.39 ERA) getting the call for Texas while RHP Jared Weaver (7-6, 3.67 ERA) goes for host Los Angeles. The road has actually not given the Rangers too much trouble and they are 19-18 in away games coming into this series while the Angels are an impressive 20-14 at home. Texas has owned this series over the past three seasons, going 26-15 overall while having an impressive 12-9 edge in Anaheim over that time. In the one series already played between these two clubs this year, the Rangers were able to take 2-of-3 games in Angels Stadium as they outscored their opponent 22-10.
Yu Darvish has continued to improve on his first two stellar seasons and has pitched 6+ innings in 11 of his 13 starts this year while allowing zero earned runs in five of those outings. One of his problems in the past was his control as he walked more than 3.4 batters per nine innings in each of his past two years, and has dropped that rate down to 3.2 BB/9 this year while also allowing a career low 0.50 HR/9. Darvish continues to be an impressive strikeout pitcher, mowing down 109 batters in just 90.1 frames (10.9 K/9) and has 10+ strikeouts in four of his past seven games. The right-hander is coming off what is possibly his worst outing of this year on Tuesday when he lasted only five innings against the Athletics while allowing seven runs (4 ER) on eight hits and five walks with eight strikeouts in his third loss of the season. Darvish has always pitched well against the Angels, going 7-1 with a 3.82 ERA and 1.27 WHIP while striking out 88 batters (11.6 K/9) and allowing nine home runs in 68.1 innings. Mike Trout has gotten the best of Darvish in his career, going 9-for-31 (.290) with a double, 4 HR, 6 RBI, six walks and 11 strikeouts. SS Erick Aybar has also done well (8-for-23, 2 doubles, 1 HR) in the matchup while 2B Howie Kendrick is hitless in 19 at-bats against Darvish with seven punch-outs. The Rangersí bullpen has not been good this year, going 14-12 with a 4.51 ERA and 1.40 WHIP while saving only 16-of-25 (64%) games coming into this series. They have been even worse on the road with an ERA of 5.20 and a 1.53 WHIP entering Friday. Joakim Soria (1.80 ERA, 15 saves) has blown just one save this year while having a 34:3 K-to-BB ratio in 25 innings of work.
Unlike many other pitchers who lose speed on their fastball, Jered Weaver has been able to adjust, and despite his four-seam heater clocking in at an average of 86 MPH, he has still struck out 7.1 batters per nine innings; his most since 2011. Weaver has struggled with long-balls though, allowing them at career-high rate of 1.32 HR/9 this year and has given up at least one tater in each of his past seven starts. Weaver has not had the best stretch coming into this contest, allowing 4+ earned runs in three of his past four starts while getting a loss each time. In his last start on Monday, Cleveland tagged him for four runs on five hits (2 HR) and one walk over six innings while he struck out just four batters. Weaver has started 32 times against the Rangers in his career, going 13-8 with a 3.66 ERA and 1.23 WHIP while striking out just 6.8 batters per nine innings in that time. SS Elvis Andrus (.354 BA, 4 doubles, 1 triple, 2 HR, 5 RBI in 65 AB) and OF Shin-Soo Choo (.452 BA, 6 doubles, 3 RBI in 31 AB) have always done very well against Weaver, while star 3B Adrian Beltre is just 15-for-71 (.211) with 1 HR, 5 RBI and 14 strikeouts versus the right-hander. OF Alex Rios has also done poorly (.160 BA, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 9 Kís in 25 AB) against the veteran. Coming into this series, the Angelsí bullpen is 10-8 with a 4.46 ERA and 1.38 WHIP, and has gone 16-for-27 (59%) in save opportunities. Closer Ernesto Frieri (5.83 ERA, 11 saves) blew his third game of the year on Thursday and has already allowed eight home runs in 29.1 innings on the mound.