The AL West champion Los Angeles Angels are stumbling towards the postseason, but manager Mike Scioscia may not care. They will try to avoid their first series sweep to the lowly Texas Rangers in six years on Wednesday.
Los Angeles (92-66) has lost two games to Texas (74-84), including Tuesday’s 3-1 defeat, since clinching its third division title in four years on Sunday. The Angels will now try to avoid their first series sweep to the Rangers since dropping a three-game series at Arlington, Tex., from Sept. 21-23, 2001.
They have not been swept this season since losing three games to Kansas City from June 25-27.
Yet a third straight loss may not matter to Scioscia, who appears content with resting his top players in preparation for the playoffs instead of making a push for home-field advantage.
“It’s an advantage to play on your home field when you’re comfortable there, but not at the cost of not having your whole team ready to compete,” Scioscia said.
He is expected to start Vladimir Guerrero (right triceps injury) as the designated hitter Wednesday after resting him and Garret Anderson on Tuesday. Kelvim Escobar’s scheduled start Tuesday was moved back to the weekend due to a sore right shoulder.
Los Angeles hopes Joe Saunders (8-4, 4.05 ERA) can help them avoid a sweep and win for only the second time in seven games as he makes his final regular-season start. The left-hander is 1-3 with a 5.73 ERA while opponents are hitting .331 in his last six outings after going 7-1 with a 3.25 ERA in his first 11 starts.
Saunders was roughed up again Friday, getting tagged for five runs and nine hits in 5 2-3 innings of a 6-0 loss to Seattle.
He was shaky in his only start against Texas this season, giving up four runs—two earned—and 10 hits in five innings of a 7-6, 10-inning Angels win on Aug. 31. He lost in his only career outing at Rangers Ballpark, allowing eight runs and five hits with five walks in 2 2-3 innings of a 9-3 defeat on Aug. 16, 2006.
The Rangers counter with rookie Luis Mendoza (1-0, 1.93), who is looking to build on his first major league victory in the team’s regular-season home finale. The 23-year-old right-hander held Baltimore to one run and four hits in five innings of a 3-2 win on Friday.
“I’m at the beginning of my career, so I don’t know what to expect,” said Mendoza, who is in his first stint in the majors after having his contract purchased from Double-A Frisco on Sept. 5. “I’m just so happy right now.”
Texas could use another strong performance from the Mexican as it tries to avoid finishing last in the West for the first time since 2003. The team is one game behind third-place Oakland, which lost 7-3 to Boston on Tuesday.
Rangers shortstop Michael Young went hitless in three at-bats Tuesday, and is still three hits shy of his fifth consecutive 200-hit season.
The only other players to reach that mark five seasons in a row since 1940 are Wade Boggs and Seattle’s Ichiro Suzuki, both of whom did it seven straight years. Suzuki extended his streak earlier this season.