The Angels look to lock up their fifth division title in six years Monday night when they open a home series against the Rangers, who are close to elimination.
Los Angeles (91-64) ended a four-game slide with a 7-4 victory over Oakland on Sunday while Texas (85-70) blew a three-run lead in the ninth inning of a 7-6 home loss to Tampa Bay. That cut the Angels’ magic number to win the West to two.
“You want to take care of your own house, your own business, and it’s something we haven’t been doing a good job of this month,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “It doesn’t matter that the team coming in is chasing you. We still have to play like we did today.”
The injury-plagued Rangers know their margin for error is virtually gone after closer Frank Francisco(notes) suffered his fourth blown save Sunday. Texas will be eliminated from postseason contention with a loss and a victory by Boston on Monday.
“With Anaheim winning today, it makes it tough,” manager Ron Washington told the Rangers’ official Web site. “We had guys out there today we depended on all year long and they just didn’t get it done.”
Washington is without injured third baseman Michael Young(notes), while center fielder Josh Hamilton(notes) sat out Sunday’s loss. Hamilton could be back in Anaheim despite missing 19 of 21 games before Sunday with a pinched nerve in his back.
“You can’t find a rhythm playing when you’re not out there doing it,” Hamilton said. “It seemed like whenever I finally get back feeling good with my swing and everything, something else would happen. So personal goals have been out the window for awhile.”
The Rangers have played well against the Angels, winning 10 of 15 games. Hamilton is a big reason for their success, batting .333 (12 for 36) with two homers and eight RBIs.
The right-hander did not get a decision for the third straight start last Tuesday against the Yankees after surrendering five runs over six innings in a 6-5 loss.
Santana lost his lone start this year against the Rangers, yielding five runs over four innings July 8 in an 8-1 loss. He fell to 4-2 with a 4.89 ERA in six career home starts against them.
The Rangers will counter with rookie Tommy Hunter(notes) (9-4, 3.67), who is 3-1 with a 5.34 ERA in his last five starts. The loss came in his lone career outing against Los Angeles as Hunter yielded two runs over five innings Sept. 18 in a 2-0 loss to the Angels.
The 23-year-old right-hander pitched worse Wednesday at Oakland, but was victorious. He gave up a season-high seven runs over 5 2-3 innings in a 9-8 win.