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Friday, June 1, 2012
W2W4: Rangers at Angels

By Richard Durrett



ANAHEIM, Calif. -- It's time yet again for the Rangers and Angels to square off, this time in Anaheim. Here are some things to watch this series:

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ESPN LA's Mark Saxon previews this weekend's Rangers-Angels series and examines the AL West race.

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* Albert Pujols. He had just one homer and 12 RBIs after the series with Texas, but has seven homers and 16 RBIs since then. In other words: Pujols looks like Pujols. Can the Rangers carefully work around him in this series or will he find a way to make an impact? But how Kendrys Morales, Mike Trout and Mark Trumbo do is critical for the Angels, too.

* Josh Hamilton. He's battled an upper respiratory infection the last few weeks and hasn't been at 100 percent. Yet he's still batting .300 in that span and delivering key hits. Hamilton said he felt better Wednesday and after an off day, should be ready to go this weekend.

* Yu Darvish. The 25-year-old has had command issues his past two outings, keeping him from going deeper in games. He made a statement against the Angels last time, staying loose and pitching after the rain delay, getting his team valuable innings and a victory. If he's got his fastball command, he's very difficult to score on. But if it's not there, hitters can wait him out and do some damage. We'll see if he's made some adjustments after working with pitching coach Mike Maddux during his last bullpen session.

* Michael Young. He went a stretch of 10 games or so without an RBI until getting one Wednesday, but he's been hitting the ball better after going through a .169 stretch (11-for-65) as the homestand started. He finds a way to get the clutch hits in big series. Watch him this weekend.

* Angels bullpen. It was a work in progress three weeks ago when these two teams last met, but has settled in and become more consistent. The Rangers are likely to get into that pen a few times in the next three games and how they do against them may determine the series.

* Matt Harrison. He's been up and down at times recently, but has done a nice job of bouncing back from long first innings or rough patches. He'll face Garrett Richards on Sunday, who will be making his first start in 2012.

* Game presentation. Few teams in the league do a better job of game presentation than the Angels. Mother Nature certainly helps with that, but from video to on-field stuff, it's impressive, much like the job Chuck Morgan and the crew do at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. So if you're here, take note and enjoy (though I'll admit I'm tired of the Rally Monkey).