Texas Rangers: Andrew Romine
There will still be interest in Hamilton because of his brutal beginning with the Angels -- a .176 batting average with two home runs. But the focus is and should be on the teams who both come into Monday's opener off of home sweeps against the Seattle Mariners and Detroit Tigers, respectively.
Here's what's to watch for the next three nights:
Pujols hobbling: Albert Pujols will be in the Angels' lineup as the designated hitter for the fifth straight game Monday night; at least that appears to be the plan. You may have noticed that Pujols wasn't running well at all when the Angels were in Texas for the Rangers' home-opening series April 5-7. You can read more about Pujols' pain here. Pujols is still swinging that bat well with a .317 batting average, two home runs and 13 RBIs.
Angels' starting rotation: The Angels took a big hit when they lost Jered Weaver to a fractured right arm on April 9 after a start against the Rangers in Arlington. Weaver is expected to be out at least another month. The Angels starters have not been very good in his absence. Joe Blanton and Jason Vargas, who will pitch the first two games of this series, are a combined 0-5 with a 7.67 ERA. Wednesday's starter, right-hander Tommy Hanson, has been OK with a 2-1 record and a 4.24 ERA. Former Ranger C.J. Wilson (1-0, 4.13) was able to go six innings against Detroit on Sunday despite throwing 52 pitches in the first two innings. Garrett Richards (1-0, 2.55) has been the Angels' best starter filling in for Weaver after opening the season in the bullpen.
Infield injuries: The Angels have two starting infielders on the disabled list -- shortstop Erick Aybar and third baseman Alberto Callaspo. Third baseman Luis Jimenez, called up from Triple-A Salt Lake City on April 12, had a six-game hitting streak snapped Sunday. He is batting .370. Brendan Harris (.308 BA) and Andrew Romine (.077 BA) have been splitting time at shortstop.
Frieri the great: The Angels haven't been able to get to closer Ernesto Frieri much in save opportunities. He had his last save on April 14. He has two on the season. Frieri has pitched well at home, not allowing a run in four appearances. The Angels acquired him in one of the best trades of 2012 from the San Diego Padres.
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Coming off one of his worst performances at home in his previous start, Yu Darvish was hoping to get back on track Wednesday night against the Los Angeles Angels. Darvish couldn't ask for a better start, but eventually walks -- which have been a recurring theme -- stirred up trouble for the rookie.
The right-hander recollected himself and got Angels rookie standout Mike Trout to hit a grounder back to the mound that left Darvish with a decision. He could have thrown to third and gotten the lead runner out with ease, but he wanted to turn two to end the inning. Darvish threw a bullet to Elvis Andrus, who was running to cover second, but the ball arrived to quickly and landed in the glove of Ian Kinsler, who was backing up the play.
"Knowing that Trout hit it and he's got good speed, I had to turn a double play as soon as I could to get those guys out," Darvish said through interpreter Joe Furukawa. "A lot of things happened on that play. It was a very unusual, awkward play. You may get that one time a year or maybe not. After that, I have to work to control the big inning and prevent those from happening."
Darvish was handed a no-decision in the Rangers' 11-10, 10-inning comeback win. He allowed seven runs on four hits with a season-high tying six walks while striking out seven in five innings. Five of the six walks issued by Darvish came around to score.
"We've just have to keep talking to him and reminding him to attack the hitters," manager Ron Washington said. "But sometimes when you get out there, you do what you think you have to do. He's the pitcher. He's doing what he thinks he has to do to survive out there. That part of it will come. There are times when he does go out there and pound the strike zone. There have been times when he has done that.
"I think we have to let him grow at his pace. The pace is real rapid. The thing is through all of that, he stood out there and battled and we were able to get him off the hook. And the next time he takes the ball he can get us off the hook."
The walks have been a problem for Darvish all season long. He is tied for third in the majors and tied for second in the American League in walks with 70 in 20 starts. Darvish admitted that issuing the walks is starting to get to him.
"I don't think it is just tonight," Darvish said. "Just in general, I think I'm starting to think about the walks. Maybe I'm thinking about that too much or paying too much attention to not walking guys. Those are things that I think are getting into my head and affecting the mentality on my part.
"Next time, I'm not going to be afraid to walk guys and just give it my all and the team wins, that's all I'm going to care about. I'm going to try to clear my mind and not even think about it."
With Angels breathing down the Rangers' back in the standings, Texas needs Darvish to figure out the problems and start pitching like he did to earn a spot in the All-Star game in July. If he doesn't, it could be a long road for both Darvish and the Rangers.
103.3 FM ESPN PODCASTS
Play Podcast Rangers GM Jon Daniels joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to tackle the tough questions after his team failed to advance to the playoffs.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss having Nelson Cruz back in the lineup and how the Rangers are feeling heading into their wild-card play-in game against the Rays.
Play Podcast ESPN Insider and senior MLB analyst Jim Bowden joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the wild-card race and the Rangers' chances of making the playoffs.
Play Podcast Chuck Cooperstein joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why he feels Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish isn't an ace.
Play Podcast Elvis Andrus joins Galloway and Company to discuss the Rangers' stretch run and the morale level in their clubhouse.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss the latest Rangers news, including the team's struggles, Ron Washington's job security and a rumored trade with the Braves.
Play Podcast Ron Washington joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss the Rangers' dismal September, who's to blame for their September struggles and his status as the team's manager.
Play Podcast Fitzsimmons and Durrett discuss how some people are calling for the Rangers to fire manager Ron Washington.