Week ahead: Angels, Mariners
September, 17, 2012
By Richard Durrett | ESPNDallas.com
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Rangers have 16 games remaining in the 2012 season and are in the middle of a pennant race. They'll face the AL West in all of those remaining games. They travel to Anaheim later today to start a three-game series Tuesday with the Angels and have three games with Seattle over the weekend. Here's a look at a few things to watch:
* Scoreboard watching. Everyone will be paying attention to the A's, who lost Sunday. The Rangers are three games up with 16 to play.
* The Angels come in after taking two of three in Kansas City over the weekend. The lone loss was a tough one, blowing a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the ninth Saturday. Los Angeles still has plenty to play for as it is in range of the AL wild card. The Rangers and Angels will see each other six more times this season, including three in Arlington on Sept. 28-30, the final homestand of the season for Texas.
* Ryan Dempster will attempt to keep his winning ways going when he takes the mound Tuesday. He has won five consecutive starts (starts, not just decisions) and has quality starts in all of those outings. The club record for wins in consecutive starts is eight by Kenny Rogers in 2005.
* The bullpen hasn't been at 100 percent, but should be good to go this week. Look for Mike Adams to return in Anaheim and with Robbie Ross now active, the club gets a reliable arm back in the fold. Joe Nathan, after a heavy workload las week, got a few days off and should be rested and ready.
* Martin Perez. He was named the club's fifth starter after Sunday's game, replacing Scott Feldman. He'll pitch against the Mariners again Friday.
* Mike Napoli caught the last two games and returned Saturday after missing 33 games with the strained left quad. He had a three-run homer Saturday and said he feels comfortable. You may not see him running at full speed, but he doesn't feel the quad when he's catching or moving laterally behind the plate. That's important.
* Josh Hamilton has five extra-base hits in his last four games (two homers and three doubles) and leads the league in homers (42) and RBIs (123). His career-high for RBIs is 130 set in 2008. Can he get close to that mark during this road trip?
* Texas will likely see Hisashi Iwakuma and Jason Vargas again in Seattle.
* Can the Rangers continue to win series? They've won eight of their last nine series and continue to preach that if they win series, they'll be fine.