The Texas Rangers are getting hot at the right time. They will try to move into second place in the AL West when they begin a two-game series with the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday at Ameriquest Field.
The teams are currently tied for second in the division, 5 1/2 games behind Oakland.
The Angels (61-58) have lost four of their last six games, including a 7-2 loss to the New York Yankees on Monday that dropped Los Angeles into the tie with Texas.
Meanwhile, the Rangers (61-58) have won five straight and need one victory to match their longest winning streak of the season. Texas beat Seattle 10-6 on Sunday to complete a four-game sweep of the Mariners, its first sweep of any four-game series since also beating Seattle on Sept. 15-18, 2005.
“We’re playing a good brand of baseball right now,” Texas manager Buck Showalter said. “We’re hoping to have some fun in September. We still have half the month of August before we can make a run at this thing.”
“I’m encouraged by the way we’re playing,” Matthews said. “We seem to be rolling on all cylinders.”
Texas improved to 19-14 against division opponents.
Vicente Padilla (12-7, 4.13 ERA) looks to win his third straight start when he takes the mound for Texas on Tuesday. Padilla threw seven scoreless innings to beat Oakland 14-0 last Wednesday, allowing only six hits.
He’s won six of his last seven starts, allowing more than three runs just once in that span.
“Padilla obviously did a great job,” Matthews Jr. said after last Wednesday’s win. “The big thing was nobody panicked; we just went out and played a game today. Padilla threw some zeros on the scoreboard early and we didn’t press at the plate. He allowed us to relax and go to work.”
Padilla is 1-0 with a 5.25 ERA in two outings versus Los Angeles this season and is 2-0 with a 3.15 ERA in four career appearances against the Angels.
Despite taking a line drive off his left leg after throwing only five pitches in his last start on Thursday, Ervin Santana (12-6, 4.14) will be back on the mound for the Angels.
Santana, who was hit by a Jason Michaels liner, was handed the loss in a 14-2 defeat to Cleveland after he allowed one hit and one run.
The right-hander limped off the field and it was feared the leg might be broken, but tests revealed only a bruise.
“It was very bad, I thought it was broken or something,” said Santana, hit on the inside of his knee.
Santana beat Texas on Aug. 5, allowing two earned runs and five hits in eight innings. He is 3-1 with a 6.00 ERA in four career starts against the Rangers.
Los Angeles hopes to have Garret Anderson back in some capacity for Tuesday’s game. The left fielder has missed the last three games with tightness in his lower back.
The Angels are 6-4 against the Rangers this season.