MLB

Sat, Sep 29, 2012 - 4:05 PM ET
 

Angels-Rangers Preview

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The Texas Rangers still need one victory to return to the postseason.

The journey is much tougher for Mike Trout and the Los Angeles Angels.

The Rangers will try to secure a playoff spot and move closer to another AL West crown, but Trout is looking to continue feasting on their pitchers and improve the visiting Angels' playoff chances Saturday.

Texas (92-65) has won back-to-back AL pennants and the club is hoping to get a chance at a third. The Rangers, though, have dropped three of four after falling 7-4 to Los Angeles (87-70) to open this three-game set Friday.

They lead second-place Oakland by three games with five left. The A's are hosting Seattle at the same time Texas continues this series, and they'll meet for the final three-game set of the regular season starting Monday in Oakland.

"If you win games, everything will take care of itself," manager Ron Washington said.

While a victory will assure the Rangers of a playoff spot, the Angels would like to delay that celebration as they try to cut into the two-game gap behind the A's for the league's final wild-card spot.

Trout, who led off Friday's game with a homer and later tripled, could play a big part in that.

His 125 runs are a franchise record and lead the majors - as do his 47 stolen bases - while his .321 average, 29 homers and 79 RBIs practically assure him of being named AL Rookie of the Year. He's also building his case for the league's MVP award, and that may continue against the Rangers.

Trout is hitting .348 with six homers, 19 RBIs, 23 runs and 16 walks in 24 career games in this series. He's also 5 for 12 with two homers against Derek Holland, Texas' scheduled starter.

He's not fazed being a part of the postseason chase for the first time.

"You've got to be relaxed," Trout said. "There's always going to be pressure when you play."

Holland (11-6, 4.50 ERA) got the better of Trout and the Angels on Sept. 19, yielding two runs in seven innings of a 6-2 road win.

The left-hander, however, followed that up five days later with one of his shortest outings of the season. He was pulled following the third inning after giving up three runs and two homers in a 5-4 win over Oakland.

Holland is 4-0 with a 3.24 ERA in his last nine starts, and hasn't been charged with a defeat since surrendering six runs and three homers in 6 2-3 innings of a 6-2 home loss to the Angels on July 31.

Los Angeles counters with Ervin Santana (9-12, 4.93), who is 5-2 with a 3.08 ERA over his last 10 starts. The right-hander has been even better in his past four, compiling a 2.03 ERA with 32 strikeouts in 26 2-3 innings while winning two of three decisions.

"He's stepped it up in the last three or four starts," right fielder Torii Hunter said. "He's showing people he's still got it."

Santana was especially terrific in his latest outing, allowing one run and two hits while fanning a season-high 11 over seven innings Sept. 21 in a 6-2 win over Chicago.

He's received a lot of help while winning his last two games in Arlington, compiling a 5.25 ERA but being backed by 20 total runs. Santana allowed three runs in five innings of a 15-8 victory there July 30.

Santana has held Texas' Adrian Beltre to a .226 average, but five of the third baseman's 12 hits have left the park.

Beltre enters this meeting batting .361 with 11 homers and 19 RBIs in his last 25 games, and he's 10 for 21 while homering twice and plating five runs in the past five.

Tagged: Angels, Rangers, Ervin Santana, Derek Holland

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