The Texas Rangers are on a tear and looking to surge into the playoffs with their best regular-season record ever.
While their postseason opponent is still unknown, the Rangers can make sure they’ll begin the quest for their second straight league pennant and first World Series title at home.
Texas looks to clinch the second-best record in the AL when it wraps up its regular season in Anaheim against the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday night.
The Rangers (95-66) have won the AL West for the second straight year thanks in part to their current 13-2 run, during which they’re batting .329 while averaging 6.3 runs and more than two homers per game.
That surge has Texas one game ahead of Central champion Detroit. The Tigers own the tiebreaker over the Rangers by virtue of winning the season series. Thus, either a Texas win Wednesday or a Detroit loss to Cleveland will be enough to secure home-field advantage for the opening round of the playoffs.
In that scenario, Texas would host Boston or Tampa Bay - currently deadlocked for the wild-card spot - while the Tigers would visit league-leading New York on Friday.
The Rangers are 52-29 at home, compared with a 43-37 mark away from Arlington.
“We’d rather play the first two games at home than on the road,” catcher Mike Napoli(notes) said. “We feel comfortable playing anywhere, but to sleep in our own beds and have your normal routine feels great.”
Napoli had two of Texas’ five homers in Tuesday’s 10-3 victory, matching the franchise’s 12-year-old record for wins in a season with 95.
Beltre has 32 homers and 105 RBIs in his first season with the Rangers, and is batting .354 with 10 homers and 27 RBIs in his last 21 games against the Angels (86-75).
Scheduled Texas starter Matt Harrison(notes) (14-9, 3.46 ERA) is enjoying his own strong September, winning all four of his starts with a 2.92 ERA. The left-hander was impressive again Friday, yielding three runs and three hits in six innings of a 5-3 victory over Seattle.
Harrison is 2-2 with a 5.04 ERA in eight career games - three starts - versus Los Angeles.
With little at stake, the Angels will conclude the season by giving the ball to rookie Garrett Richards(notes) (0-2, 8.00) after scratching originally-scheduled starter Jered Weaver(notes). Weaver turned in the best season of his six-year career, going 18-8 with a 2.41 ERA in a career-high 235 2-3 innings.
“(Weaver) has pitched extremely well this year, but it comes to a point where I think we’d be stretching him for really diminishing returns right now,” manager Mike Scioscia said. “We obviously have to look out for these guys moving forward, so that they’ll be ready to do this again next year.”
Richards, a first-round draft pick in 2009, is 0-1 with a 9.53 ERA in two starts with Los Angeles this year. One of those came against Texas on Aug. 15, when a strained groin forced him to exit after recording two outs and allowing one run in the opening inning.
The right-hander is 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA in four relief appearances since returning from the injury earlier this month.