Hunter takes the mound trying to improve to 8-0 as the AL West-leading Rangers close a four-game series with the Angels on Sunday night.
In his last start, Hunter (7-0, 2.09 ERA) became the first Texas starter to begin the season with seven wins and no losses. He gave up three hits in seven innings of an 8-0 win over Detroit on Tuesday.
The Rangers (57-41) are 8-1 in Hunter’s starts this season, eight of which have been quality outings.
However, Hunter went 0-2 with a 9.82 ERA in two starts - both last season - against Los Angeles.
The Rangers won the first two games of this key series to increase their lead in the West to seven games - the franchise’s largest division lead since 1999. The Angels (52-48), though, cut the deficit to six with a 6-2 victory Saturday night.
Ervin Santana(notes) threw eight solid innings while Erick Aybar(notes) had three hits and an RBI to help Los Angeles snap a three-game losing streak. The Angels scored two runs in the first two games of the series, wasting stellar outings by Joe Saunders(notes) and Jered Weaver(notes).
“We were playing free tonight,” manager Mike Scioscia said. “We know what our focus needs to be. We need to come back and build some momentum (on Sunday night) like we did tonight.”
The Angels close their six-game trip Sunday and will host the Rangers next weekend for three games. They haven’t won two straight on the road since a five-game streak June 11-19.
Texas will try to rebound after losing for the third time in 10 games. The team’s potent offense has cooled recently, scoring seven runs in the last four games after recording 37 in the previous six.
While Hamilton, who is batting a major league-best .353, has been relatively quiet against the Angels in 2010, going 7 for 24 with only two RBIs, he might have better success at the plate against Trevor Bell(notes) (1-1, 6.05).
He pitched a scoreless inning of relief against the Yankees on Tuesday, giving up two hits.
As a starter, the 23-year-old right-hander is 1-1 with a 10.80 ERA. He’s given up seven runs and nine hits in two relief appearances against the Rangers, spanning 3 2-3 innings. He was charged with the loss in both games.
He’ll look to keep Michael Young(notes) in the park after the Texas third baseman homered for a third straight game Saturday, the second time he’s done that in his career. He also did so in 2004. Young is hitting .375 with four home runs and seven RBIs in eight games against the Angels this year.