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05/17/10 6:53 PM ET

Vlad looms over Rangers-Angels rivalry

A shadow named Vladimir will hang over the season series between the Angels and Rangers, especially the games played in Texas. Vladimir Guerrero, difference-making slugger for the Angels the past few seasons, has brought his act to the middle of the Rangers' batting order. And so far, the passing of Guerrero from one team to another has had a huge effect on the standings.

Guerrero, who hit .319 with 173 home runs and 616 RBIs in six years with the Angels, got to play against his former team Monday for the first time since signing a lucrative free-agent deal to join the Rangers. Guerrero has had a signature start to the season, and he's seen the Rangers vault to first place while the Angels struggle to score and to win consistently.

Guerrero, who went into Monday's game with the highest career batting average (.395) and slugging percentage (.697) at Rangers Ballpark, has continued his assault since making it his home. The former Most Valuable Player has hit safely in 17 of his first 21 home games this season and has logged 19 RBIs at home, which is the second-highest total in the Major Leagues.

And if those are the early returns in Guerrero's decision to join the Rangers, there will be plenty of more time to evaluate as the season progresses. Los Angeles and Texas will play 13 times after the All-Star break, and they'll meet seven times in the final two weeks. In other words, these two teams could well be playing meaningful baseball all the way through the tape.

Guerrero may be the biggest story between these two teams, but he won't be the only compelling topic. The Angels will send Jered Weaver to the mound in Tuesday's series finale, and Texas will counter with converted reliever C.J. Wilson. Wilson is the first Rangers pitcher to start his season with seven straight quality starts, and he's looking forward to getting No. 8 on Tuesday.

"Tomorrow's going to be a fun game. We're going up against their ace," said Wilson, owner of the second-best ERA (1.48) in the American League. "The biggest thing we can do is get off to a good start."

Angels: Abreu scratched with back stiffness
The Angels scratched Bobby Abreu due to back stiffness Monday and are uncertain whether he'll be able to play Tuesday. Abreu, who played in 38 of his team's first 39 games, is five doubles short of No. 500 for his career, and when he gets there, he'll join Barry Bonds, Rickey Henderson and Craig Biggio as the only players with 500 doubles, 250 home runs and 350 stolen bases.

The Angels have had trouble getting on base this season, and manager Mike Scioscia said it's had a cascade effect.

"I think we've had a lot of things in the batter's box that hasn't materialized, and our on-base percentage has been real down," he said. "I think we have team speed to go first to third. We're not as strong as a straight basestealing team as we have been in the past, but as far as going first to third, we can do that. But we have not been able to create some things in games that are important to us, which is getting one of the first two guys in the inning on base to set up some things for us."

Rangers: Wilson making mark as starter
Wilson hasn't just made a transition, he's been one of the very best starters in the AL. The left-hander has managed to remain competitive despite the second-lowest run support (2.59 per game) in the league. Wilson has also logged a 0.91 ERA at home since the start of the 2009 season, the best of any big league pitcher with 65 innings over that span.

When asked what's different at home, though, Wilson can't help but offer a sarcastic quip.

"Our chef is way better than the road chef," he said. "I do like pitching at home. I'd rather pitch here, if given the choice."

Worth noting
The Rangers have scored either zero or one run for Wilson four times in his seven starts. ... Texas saw its staff ERA rise by nearly a half-run (from 3.57 to 4.03) during its three-game weekend losing streak. ... Angels veteran Hideki Matsui is five home runs shy of 150 in his Major League career. ... The Angels have been outscored by 34 runs this season. ... The Angels are the only team yet to score more than four runs in an inning this season. ... Angels first baseman Kendry Morales has a league-high 28 home runs since last year's All-Star break. ... The Angels have seen their starting rotation spring for a 3.39 ERA and 10 quality starts in 16 May games.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.