The major league-leading Los Angeles Angels have made themselves awfully comfortable in Arlington this year.
Having all but wrapped up the AL West crown, Los Angeles goes for a three-game sweep against the last-place Texas Rangers on Thursday night.The Angels (90-55) have outscored opponents by an average of 5.3 runs during a season-best seven-game winning streak after taking the first two in this series by a 17-4 score. Kole Calhoun went deep for the third straight day and Albert Pujols finished a homer shy of the cycle in Wednesday's 8-1 rout.Pujols and Calhoun are a combined 23 for 59 with 12 extra-base hits, 15 RBIs and 21 runs scored over the last six games.Los Angeles has taken 12 of 15 from the Rangers in 2014, including eight of nine in Texas by a 62-30 margin. The Angels, in contrast, went 1-9 there last season.Manager Mike Scioscia's club now sits nine games ahead of Oakland for the division lead after the Athletics lost to the Chicago White Sox.Texas (54-91) has been held to 1.9 runs per game in dropping 10 of 11. The Rangers have hit .136 with runners in scoring position over that stretch, going 2 for their last 31 in such situations."It doesn't matter who we are playing, we have to try and win ballgames," third baseman Adrian Beltre told MLB's official website. "We've got a job to do. We've got to go out and compete. It's September, obviously we don't have the guys we want, so they are trying to see guys that have a chance to be here next year. It's not the best scenario."Texas now turns to rookie Nick Martinez (3-10, 5.03 ERA), who's gone without a decision in his last two outings despite a 2.38 ERA. The right-hander allowed two runs over six innings in Saturday's 4-2 home loss to Seattle.Martinez had a 10.97 ERA in losing each of his previous home starts. He is winless in nine games -- seven starts -- in Arlington.Martinez has gone 0-1 with a 4.15 ERA over two starts against the Angels while receiving one run of support in each. Calhoun is 3 for 6 with a homer and a double in their matchups.Cory Rasmus (3-1, 2.81) is set to make his third start for Los Angeles after pitching exclusively out of the bullpen. The right-hander struck out six over three innings in a 2-0 win over Oakland on Aug. 30 before allowing two runs and three walks over 1 2/3 innings in Saturday's 8-5 win at Minnesota.Rasmus will need to be careful against Beltre, who's 21 for his last 49 in the series.Angels superstar Mike Trout scored twice Wednesday to move into the league lead with 101 runs. The MVP candidate is just the sixth player with three 100-run campaigns before his age-23 season, joining Mel Ott, Buddy Lewis, Ted Williams, Vada Pinson and Alex Rodriguez.Trout is batting .336 with nine homers, 30 RBIs and 28 runs in 31 career games in Texas.Los Angeles continues to play without Josh Hamilton due to a stiff right shoulder, and it's unclear when he'll be able to return."Do I push it and set myself way back, or do I go in there and take it easy for a couple extra days and then I'm good?" he said. "It (stinks) not being out there with them, given that they're playing that well."
Kole Calhoun's line drive rate this season against right-handed pitchers is 29 percent, ninth among qualified hitters. Nick Martinez has allowed a line drive rate this season of 28 percent against left-handed hitters, the 10th-highest mark among all pitchers who have thrown at least 100 innings.
On Thursday night, Albert Pujols struck out four times in a game for the first time in his career. Thursday was his 2,102nd career game.