Friday, April 5, 2013

By Brian Waller, Columnist -- 

Alright, it wasn't the greatest way to start the season but it could be worse...right? The Angels played in three very close games that really could have gone either way, especially since the Cincinnati Reds are coming off of a 97-win season. The Angels must now "turn the page" and focus their attention on the Rangers. They will travel to Arlington to open up a 3-game series beginning today at 2:05pm (ET). Is this a "make-or-break" series?...No! Would it be nice to rebound from two consecutive losses with taking 2-of-3 from our hated rivals? Yes!

Game Date/Times/TV Schedule
4/5 – Angels @ Rangers / 11:05am (ET) / Fox Sports West
4/6 - Angels @ Rangers / 1:05pm (ET) / Fox *nationally televised
4/7 – Angels @ Rangers / 5:05pm (ET) / ESPN 2 *nationally televised

Probable Pitchers
4/5 –Jason Vargas (Lefty) (0-0, -.—ERA) vs Derek Holland (Lefty) (0-0, -.—ERA)
4/6 –Tommy Hanson (Righty) (0-0, -.—ERA) vs Matt Harrison (Lefty) (0-1, 7.94 ERA)
4/7 –Jered Weaver (Righty) (0-0, 1.50 ERA) vs Yu Darvish (Righty) (1-0, 0.00 ERA)

4/5 – 72 degrees, mostly sunny w/ 20% chance of rain
4/6 – 79 degrees, mostly sunny w/ 0% chance of rain
4/7 – 80 degrees, partly cloudy w/ 10% chance of rain

Player(s) to Watch
Josh Hamilton – We all know the splits on Hamilton, Angel fans everywhere have picked apart his splits since he came to the Halos. He has always hit well in Arlington. In his 332 career games at the stadium he has hit .315 with a .965 OPS while hitting 83 HR with 290 RBIs. 

Yu Darvish dominated the Houston Astros in his first start of the 2013 season going 8.2 innings, striking out 14 and allowing only 1 hit!...Although it was “masterful performance” it was still against the Houston Astros so let’s not get too carried away fawning over him. 

Only Alberto Callaso (6-14, 2 2B, 3 RBI, .500 OBP) and Mike Trout (6-17, 2 HR, 4 RBI, .476 OBP) have hit well against Yu Darvish (2012). Pujols (.235) does have a home run and 3 RBI against him. Mark Trumbo (1-15, 5 K's) and Howie Kendrick (0-9) have struggled the most against the Japanese righthander. 

Tommy Hanson will face the Rangers on be blunt; the odds are not in his favor. I'm not saying Hanson won't pitch well; I'm simply saying that if we look at this objectively there haven't really been signs pointing to success just yet. Hanson had a rough spring, going 0-2 with a 5.89 ERA and he left his March 20th Cactus League start with tightness in his right triceps. Despite the injury, Hanson squeezed in a minor league start before spring training ended; he threw 88 pitches, struck out 9 while allowing 3 earned runs over 6 innings. Although the minor league start was a step in the right direction, he will be facing a stacked Texas offense in Arlington during a day game...It will be extremely important for Hanson to keep his pitches down in the zone if the Halos have a shot at a “W”.

Angels Ace Jered Weaver has a career 13-7 record with a 3.61 ERA against the Texas Rangers. In Arlington, Weaver is 4-7 with a 4.88 ERA in 16 career starts. 

The Angels offense...I know that’s a pretty broad selection but the Halos will be facing two lefties this weekend in Derek Holland and Matt Harrison. Last year the Angels had the 2nd highest team average against lefties (.277) in the majors. 

Finally, the player to keep an eye on this series is Peter Bourjos. He’s seen very limited playing time to start the season due to the Halos starting off in an NL park. Bourjos career starts in Arlington aren't sparkling but they are respectable; in 18 games there he is 17/62 (.274) with 4 HR, 7 RBIs, and 2 triples. It will be nice to have Bourjos’ speed and defense back in the mix this week, hopefully he has a nice series.

Angels’ News/Notes

Opponent Facts
Rangers Captain is the mascot for the Texas Rangers. Introduced in 2002, he is a palomino-style horse, dressed in the team’s uniform. He wears #72 on his uniform in honor of the 1972, the year the Rangers relocated to Arlington, Texas. 

On April 1, 1994, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Texas was opened. The 49,170 seat stadium was completed in just 23-months. The unique complex has a four-story office building within the ballpark, a youth baseball park, a 12-acre lake, and parks and recreation space on the perimeter. The total cost of the project was approximately $191-million.

Retired Numbers - #26 – Johnny Oates (Manager), #34 – Nolan Ryan (Pitcher), #42 – Jackie Robinson

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