A prolonged offensive slump has Texas in the midst of an untimely losing streak. The good news for the Rangers is that the first-place Los Angeles Angels also haven’t played all that well of late.
The Rangers will try to cut into the visiting Angels’ AL West lead when the teams open a key three-game series Friday night.
After scoring one run in its last 37 innings while losing four in a row, this is a critical series for.second-place Texas (80-65), which is 6 1/2 games behind Los Angeles after the Angels snapped a three-game losing streak with a 4-3 win at Boston on Thursday.
The deficit is large but not insurmountable, as the division rivals play each other seven times over the final two weeks of the season.
“It’s a big series. We have to find a way to win games right now,” said Rangers All-Star Michael Young(notes), who’s missed all but one game since Sept. 1 due to a strained hamstring. “We haven’t given up anything.”
With Young batting .322 and hoping to be in the lineup Friday, the Rangers should be confident despite going 0 for 22 with runners in scoring position during their four-game skid. Texas is 9-3 versus the Angels (87-59) this season and 5-1 at home.
Los Angeles, though, has experience on its side after winning the division four of the last five seasons.
“(The Angels are) in that mode right now going down the stretch. They’ve been there before,” said Rangers manager Ron Washington, whose team is 1-5 on a nine-game homestand. “They will definitely come up here with a different attitude than they had earlier games we played them. … They’re not coming up in here to fall off the wagon.”
David Murphy’s(notes) homer during a 6-1 loss to Oakland on Tuesday accounted for Texas’ lone run over the last four contests. It is the first time since the Rangers moved to Texas in 1972, that they’ve scored only once over a four-game span.
“We’ve made it tough on ourselves, but we can’t give up,” said Byrd, who’s batting .386 with five homers and 12 RBIs against the Angels this season. “We’ve got to come out and see what we can do, see if we can put a long string together. See if we can get a miracle.”
Kazmir, who is 1-1 with a 2.92 ERA versus Texas this season, is 0-1 with a 1.86 ERA in three starts since being traded to Los Angeles on Aug. 28. The left-hander allowed two runs in six innings Sunday, but didn’t receive a decision in a 3-2 win over Chicago.
“I’m not worried about the wins. I mean, that’s going to come,” Kazmir said.
The Rangers counter with rookie Tommy Hunter(notes) (8-3, 3.23), who tries for a third straight victory after allowing six hits in his first complete game - a 7-2 win over Seattle on Sunday. The Rangers have not won since.
The right-hander is making his first appearance against the Angels
Howie Kendrick(notes) homered and added an RBI blooper to break a ninth-inning tie Thursday and help Los Angeles win for only the second time in six contests. The Angels had won seven of their previous eight.
Kendrick is batting .396 with four homers and 24 RBIs in his last 28 games, but 3 for 22 against Texas this season.