Los Angeles (92-65), which clinched its third division crown in four years Sunday, has moved 17-game winner Kelvim Escobar’s scheduled start to this weekend, opting to rest his arm in order to keep him on schedule to pitch in the first round of the postseason.
“We’ll announce our playoff rotation at the appropriate time. Kelvim will be in it,” said Angels manager Mike Scioscia, who is also resting Jered Weaver. “There’s some advantages to clinching early, about automatically being able to reset some of your pitching, which we’re going to be in the process of doing now.”
The Angels are in still the hunt for the AL’s best record and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, but fell one-half game behind AL East leader Boston and a full game behind AL Central winner Cleveland after an 8-7 loss in Monday’s series opener.
“Nobody’s happy about losing a game anytime,” Scioscia said. “After you take the lead, or after a run, to keep the momentum, it’s important for that pitcher to put up a zero. And we weren’t able to do that.”
Los Angeles now turns to Dustin Moseley (4-3, 4.60 ERA), who gets his first start against Texas (73-84) as the replacement for Escobar.
Moseley, who has been used mostly out of the bullpen, is 1-1 with a 4.66 ERA in seven starts this season. The right-hander’s last start came on Aug. 20, when he gave up two runs and six hits in five innings of a 7-6, 10-inning win over the New York Yankees.
He has no decisions and a 4.05 ERA in five relief outings against the Rangers.
Texas shortstop Michael Young is hitless in three at-bats against Moseley, but needs only three hits for his fifth consecutive 200-hit season after going 2-for-4 with a homer and four RBIs on Monday.
The only other players with five 200-hit seasons in a row since 1940 are Wade Boggs and Seattle’s Ichiro Suzuki, both of whom did it seven straight years. Suzuki’s streak is active and includes the 2007 season.
The Rangers are trying to avoid finishing at the bottom of the West for the first time since 2003. They are two games behind third-place Oakland, which opens a two-game set at Boston on Tuesday.
Wright is 3-3 with a 4.66 ERA in nine starts this season. The right-hander has not started since Aug. 25, when he allowed three runs and seven hits in five innings of a 5-3 win over Seattle. He has made seven strong relief appearances since then, posting a 2.55 ERA and a .180 opponents’ batting average.