05/16/10 12:34 PM ET
AL West rivals kick off two-game set in Texas
By Bailey Stephens / MLB.com
The Halos hit the road for a two-game stint in Arlington, where they'll need to improve on the 2-8 mark they posted on their last road trip, lest they see the Rangers' lead in the AL West grow.
The Angels have been playing much better lately, but just at home, most recently sweeping the visiting Oakland A's. The Halos' road woes are not that perplexing, they've just forgotten their bats on many road trips. Entering play on Sunday, at least four Angels regulars are hitting at least 50 points higher at home than on the road, including Bobby Abreu, Kendry Morales, Howard Kendrick and Hideki Matsui.
Playing at home is just what the doctor ordered for the Rangers, who have dropped five in a row on the road, including getting swept in Toronto. At home, however, Texas has been extremely tough, which is more bad news for the Angels.
The Rangers have played to a 13-7 record at Rangers Ballpark and could use the home cooking after a short, but tough road trip.
They will have sluggers Vladimir Guerrero and Elvis Andrus back after both took a seat for most of Sunday's finale to give them a break from the turf surface at Rogers Centre. Andrus did enter the contest as a pinch-hitter, and recorded a single in his only at bat. Guerrero also pinch-hit, grounding into a double play.
Angels: Kazmir hopes to regain control
Scott Kazmir will get the ball on Monday in the series opener, and hopes to shake the control issues which blemished his last start against his former team, the Rays. He allowed three runs but only lasted five innings because of a high pitch count, but wouldn't attribute his struggles to facing his former club. Kazmir hasn't pitched past the sixth in 12 consecutive starts, a stat that is troubling to his manager. "We're still trying to unlock Kaz and get him to be the pitcher we know he can be," Mike Scioscia said. "It's very frustrating at this time. He didn't pitch well [against Tampa Bay] and didn't have command."
Rangers: Holland confident in ability
The Rangers will counter with a much-less seasoned pitcher on Monday in 23-year-old Derek Holland, who will be making his second big league start of the season. He pitched six scoreless innnings to record the victory in his return from Triple-A last week against the A's. Holland will be trying to find the same touch that enabled him to pitch a three-hit shutout against the Halos last August. "This is huge," said Holland last week after his victory. "This keeps my confidence up and shows I can pitch up here just like I did down at Oklahoma City."
Kazmir could solve his woes against the Rangers, a team he's very familiar with, having gone 6-1 with a 2.05 ERA against them in 10 career starts. ... Prior to Saturday's loss, the Rangers were just one of three teams to not be shut out this season. The Angels are one of the two left standing to not be shut out.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.