© 2010 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.

07/22/10 6:39 PM ET

Callaspo joins Angels, who keep Rangers in sight

Could welcoming back a familiar face be the key to the Angels boosting their offense without Kendry Morales and making a charge in the American League West race?

Los Angeles acquired Alberto Callaspo from the Royals prior to Thursday's game against the first-place Rangers, and the switch-hitting infielder is set to join the team on Friday in Arlington when the two teams square off in the second contest of an important four-game series between the top two teams in the division.

After Thursday's 3-2 victory, the Rangers now hold a six-game lead over the Angels.

Callaspo, who signed with the Angels as a teenager out of Venezuela in 2001 before being traded to Arizona, is hitting .275 this season with eight home runs and 43 RBIs. Angels manager Mike Scioscia said Callaspo will primarily play third base.

"Over the long haul, it's going to have an impact -- a guy who can hit the ball and put the ball in play," Scioscia said. "Alberto is a good offensive player. He can hit in the two hole, the six, seven holes with guys in scoring position. We were looking for offense."

Taking the mound for the Angels on Friday will be Joe Saunders, who will try to turn things around personally against the Rangers, especially in Arlington, in his first start against Texas this season.

In five career starts in Arlington, Saunders is 0-5 with an 11.68 ERA, allowing 32 earned runs in 24 2/3 innings pitched. His overall numbers against the Rangers last season don't look much better -- he went 0-3 with a 16.88 ERA, with 20 earned runs allowed in 10 2/3 innings.

Saunders will be opposed by C.J. Wilson, who will be looking for his first win of the season against the Angels in his third start against the club. He last faced Los Angeles on July 1, when he took the loss after giving up two earned runs on five hits in 5 2/3 innings.

Wilson earned the win in his last start against the Red Sox on Sunday, allowing one earned run on three hits over 6 2/3 innings. He also struck out a season-high 10 batters.

Angels: Consistent post-break breakout for Rivera
Outfielder Juan Rivera has historically been a second-half player, and that has not changed this season. Rivera is batting .407 (11-for-27) since the All-Star break, with two doubles, one home run, one RBI and 16 total bases. In his career, Rivera is a career .301 hitter with 68 home runs in the second half, compared to a .257 career average with 40 home runs in the first half.

Rangers: Cruz returning to form
While Ian Kinsler's 15-game hitting streak is the longest active streak in the AL, the more impressive streak might belong to outfielder Nelson Cruz, who extended his career-best hitting streak to 11 games with a double in the fourth inning on Thursday. In the Rangers' last seven games, Cruz has posted a .404 average (19-for-47) with 10 RBIs. In Texas' previous 15 games, he had just two RBIs.

"Comfort. Finding his rhythm," said Rangers manager Ron Washington of what has improved for Cruz since the All-Star break. "I think three days off did him some good."

Worth noting
The Angels' starting pitchers have lasted at least six innings in 16 of 18 games in July. Los Angeles' rotation also leads the Majors in innings pitched this season with 611 1/3. ... The Angels have outscored their opponents 56-38 in the first inning this season but have been outscored 464-449 overall. ... Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton has not gone hitless in two straight games since May 15-16. Entering Thursday, he led the Majors in batting average (.353), hits (132) and extra-base hits (56). He also had the highest average (.371) and home run total (16) of any player in his home ballpark this season. ... Kinsler has hit safely in 33 of his last 36 games, posting a .350 (50-of-143) clip during that span. ... The Rangers have been shut out only one time this season. ... With a double and run scored on Thursday, Vladimir Guerrero continued to torch his former team offensively this season, batting .478 (11-of-23) against the Angels with four home runs, three doubles, nine RBIs and seven runs scored in six games. Guerrero has also homered in three of his last six games overall. ... Entering Thursday, the Rangers were the only AL team to rank in the top five in both batting average (.279) and ERA (3.87).

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