Texas Rangers at Los Angeles Angels
- The Rangers went 15-4 against the Angels in 2013 and have an active five-game win streak in this series.
- Texas has grounded into a league-high 29 double plays so far this season. The Rangers finished tied for 14th in the majors in that category in 2013 (124).
- Angel batters have been quite successful jumping on the first pitch of any at bat this season. They are hitting .426 (49/115) with seven home runs on 0-0 counts; the batting average leads the majors, while the home runs are tied with the Brewers for second (Giants -- 8).
- Colby Lewis is 0-3 in his last seven starts against AL West clubs even though he has pitched pretty well in those appearances, posting a 2.95 (12/36.2) ERA and .228 (31/136) opponent average while striking out 27 and walking just six batters. One reason for his lack of success is that he received just nine runs of support over those starts (2.21 RSA).
- Mike Trout leads the majors with 14 multi-hit games so far this season, including three 2+ hit games in his last five contests. Trout batted .349 (22/63) against the Rangers in 2013, with seven multi-hit games.
- Hector Santiago is 0-4 in five starts so far in 2014. The Angels had two pitchers go winless in their first 5+ starts last season -- Joe Blanton had no wins in his first nine starts of the season while Jason Vargas went winless in his first five (streaks exclude any relief appearances).
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By NICOLINO DIBENEDETTO
(AP) -- The Texas Rangers' rotation has been a major issue of late and, in his latest start, that description also fit ace Yu Darvish.
Facing the Los Angeles Angels on the road could be just what he's looking for.
Darvish will take the mound looking to bounce back from his shortest outing in the majors and help the Rangers avoid a sixth loss in seven games Sunday in Anaheim.
The rotation has been a major culprit for Texas (16-14) during this 1-5 stretch, posting an 8.23 ERA while allowing opponents to hit a whopping .360.
Those struggles continued Saturday, when Matt Harrison surrendered three runs and 10 hits before being pulled with one out in the fifth inning of a 5-3 defeat to the Angels (15-14).
The Rangers took the opener of this three-game set 5-2 on Friday.
Darvish (1-1, 2.59 ERA) will try to get back on track after allowing four runs and six hits in just 3 1-3 innings in Monday's 4-0 loss to Oakland, which bumped his ERA up nearly a run from the 1.61 mark he had through four starts.
"The first few innings I thought he mixed (pitches) pretty good," manager Ron Washington said. "I thought he tried to throw everything at them. ... They found a way to put balls in play. They found a way to score runs."
The Rangers haven't done much of that in support of Darvish, backing him with an average of 1.44 runs - the lowest in the majors. They've failed to provide him with any runs in three of his five outings.
The lineup may not need to do much with Darvish on the hill in Anaheim. He's won each of his last four starts there behind a 1.93 ERA and 37 strikeouts in 28 innings.
Shin-Soo Choo and Alex Rios also seem to enjoy facing Los Angeles. Choo is a career .346 hitter versus the Angels, and he has five hits with one homer and three RBIs in this series.
Rios has four hits - one homer - in the past two games, giving him a .388 average with five homers while plating 11 runs over his past 13 games at Anaheim.
Unlike Darvish, Tyler Skaggs (2-0, 3.34) is getting plenty of help, with the offense backing him with an average of 5.7 runs - a big reason why all five of his starts have ended in Angels victories.
The left-hander has completed at least seven innings in four of his outings, including Monday's 6-3 home win over Cleveland. Skaggs gave up a three-run homer to Carlos Santana in the fourth inning and left after seven with the score tied before Los Angeles scored three times in the eighth.
"(Skaggs) had a really good running fastball early in the game," manager Mike Scioscia told the team's official website. "He just made a couple of mistakes in that inning. Tyler came out of that inning with some real purpose."
Skaggs won his only career meeting with the Rangers in impressive fashion, striking out nine batters while yielding three hits in six innings of a 5-3 victory with Arizona on May 27.
C.J. Cron may be back in the lineup after going 3 for 5 with a double and two RBIs in his major league debut Saturday. The first baseman, who led the minors with 123 RBIs in 2012 with Class-A Inland, is the son of former Angel Chris Cron.
"It was unbelievable, man. Every ballplayer's dream is to be at this stage, and just being able to help the team win is an awesome feeling," Cron said.
Updated May 4, 2014