If Lee can beat Los Angeles for the second time in 11 days Sunday, he’d put 10 games between his first-place Rangers and the Angels after the first day of August.
Texas (61-43) added infielders Cristian Guzman(notes) and Jorge Cantu(notes) this week before Saturday’s trade deadline, but the Rangers’ biggest addition came three weeks ago when they acquired Lee from Seattle.
The 2008 AL Cy Young Award winner has pitched at least eight innings in each of his first four starts with Texas, posting a 2.55 ERA and a 1-1 record while getting only seven runs of support.
Lee (9-4, 2.40 ERA), though, picked up his lone victory as a Ranger against Los Angeles on July 22, when he pitched 8 1-3 innings and outdueled Weaver in a 3-2 win.
“Give Lee credit,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “On the mound, he controlled the tempo of the game. We couldn’t bunch many hits and he didn’t walk anybody.”
Oakland has also pulled ahead of the Angels (53-53), who’ve lost eight of 10 and are in danger of slipping under .500 for the first time since they were 27-28.
The three-time reigning AL West champions may be especially desperate to make up some ground on the Rangers, whom they won’t face after Sunday until Sept. 20. The teams then meet seven times in the final two weeks of the season.
Even Weaver (9-7, 3.19) has been losing lately. The right-hander is 1-4 with a 4.45 ERA in his last five starts after going 8-3 with a 2.82 ERA in his first 17 outings.
Weaver, who’s tied with Haren atop the majors with 155 strikeouts, has never lost to the Rangers at home, going 4-0 with a 2.72 ERA in eight career starts.
He may face a depleted Texas lineup, with Ian Kinsler(notes) on the disabled list and major league batting leader Josh Hamilton(notes) battling knee tendinitis, although Hamilton could return after missing Saturday’s game with the lingering injury.
“He just didn’t feel good, and he didn’t want to start the ballgame and have to come out,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said.
Vladimir Guerrero(notes) provided all the offense Texas would need with a two-run home run in the fourth inning. The veteran left the Angels via free agency in the offseason and has hurt his former club, batting .326 with five homers and 13 RBIs in 11 games against them.
Guerrero has eight RBIs in his last five games overall, but the homer was his first since July 9.
“You go through those streaks where you’re not feeling it or you’re swing is not as grooved as you know it could be,” Guerrero said through a translator. “I just went through one of those times.”
Texas’ Nelson Cruz(notes) hopes to extend his career-best hitting streak to 20 games. He’s batting .385 with 18 RBIs during the streak and has hit safely in all 11 of his games against the Angels this year.