09/29/10 1:56 PM ET
Kazmir to battle Lee as Halos visit Texas
By Bailey Stephens / MLB.com
The Angels are, however, still duking it out with the Athletics in the final four games of the season for second place in the American League West, and lead Oakland by a game in the standings entering Thursday. Fending off the A's would be a positive step for a team that has struggled with staying consistent while beset by injuries.
The first step toward obtaining that last goal of the season sits in the hands of Scott Kazmir, enduring one of the most difficult seasons of his career. Kazmir, expected to be one of the cogs in the Halos' rotation, has lost 10 of his last 12 decisions. His most recent start, against the White Sox, lasted just three innings -- his shortest outing of the season. The Angels announced recently that Kazmir will spend the winter working out in Arizona with Angels instructors to try to find the form he was in earlier in his career when he became a young star with the Rays.
"He was on a meteoric rise of his career," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "Obviously he's had some injuries that have set him back, some mechanical issues. He's totally committed himself to an offseason change in the dynamics of how he works out."
While the season hasn't gone the way Kazmir or the Angels would have hoped, there's one more chance for him to go out on a positive note.
While the Rangers have sealed their AL West title and are preparing to face either the Rays or Yankees in the playoffs, there are still goals to be accomplished. Manager Ron Washington is tasked with getting and keeping his players healthy while still keeping them fresh and ready for next week.
Texas could get a major piece back during this series in the form of slugger Josh Hamilton. Hamilton, who has two small fractures in his rib cage, successfully completed sessions hitting off a tee and off soft-toss. If he experiences no ill effects in the aftermath, Hamilton will take live batting practice and could return to the lineup as early as Friday night. He won't have to argue too hard with Washington.
"If he says he's ready to go, I'm going to start getting him some at-bats," Washington said.
Angels: A 'bullpen game' is a possibility
Jered Weaver is scheduled to start Friday and Dan Haren is slated for Sunday's season finale. But Weaver has set a new career high with 217 1/3 innings and Haren is one-third of an inning away from matching his previous high of 229 1/3, so there could be some changes in the works. "We have other options, but we're not going to rule out these guys starting," Scioscia said. "We might start them and have them on a limited basis ... there's a lot of different options we have, but we do have arms in the bullpen that can piece together games. So you might have a bullpen day."
Rangers: Lee back in form at right time
To set him up for a Game 1 start in the American League Division Series on Wednesday, Cliff Lee's final start of the regular season was moved to Thursday. Lee has shown lately that his back is no longer an issue and has been pitching more like the Lee of 2009. The Rangers can only hope that continues into the playoffs, but all signs are pointing that direction, with a 2-1 record and 2.57 ERA in three starts since his return. ... Texas is expected to know more Thursday about the condition of David Murphy, who left Wednesday's victory with a strained left groin.
For all of the Rangers' success this season, their season series with the Angels is still to be decided. Texas holds an 8-7 lead with four games to go. ... On Wednesday, the Rangers ended a streak which had seen them go seven straight games without an error, their longest streak in over two years. ... The last time the Angels didn't have a regular starter with a batting average of .300 or more was 2001. Torii Hunter currently leads all Halos' starters with a .283 average.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.