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Angels Look to Take Series vs. Rangers in Thursday Matinee

Halos will be trying for their third straight win in Texas

MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Texas Rangers Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

After dropping the first game of their series against the Rangers in a rather sluggish fashion on Monday, the Angels bounced back to take the next two, albeit in two very different ways. On Tuesday night, it was the lineup that got the job done, with the Halo bats scoring double-digit runs for the first time in over a month in a rather painless win. Yesterday, it was another gem on the mound from Shohei Ohtani followed by an impressive showing from the bullpen that led the team to victory when the offense faltered.

In today’s series finale, the Angels will hope to get both of these on the same page, as another win would get the club over .500 once again and back to within six games of the idle Oakland A’s for the second AL Wild Card spot.

On the pitching side, the Halos will turn to Dylan Bundy, who is making his second consecutive turn in the rotation since filling in for Alex Cobb, who got scratched from his start last week with a blister and then went on the injured list with right wrist inflammation. Bundy’s last start against the A’s was a mixed bag, as he labored through a three-run first inning where he walked two batters and hit another before settling in and allowing just three baserunners over his next four frames. The Angels Opening Day starter has pitched against the Rangers just once this season back in April, where he was roughed up to the tune of five earned runs in five innings.

On the other side of the ledger will be a new face to Texas, as Spencer Howard is making his first start with the Rangers after being acquired as the centerpiece of the deal that sent Kyle Gibson and Ian Kennedy to the Phillies at last week’s trade deadline. Howard, a San Luis Obispo native, was ranked as the top prospect in the Phillies farm system and the No. 42 overall prospect in baseball prior to this season, but he has struggled to find his footing in his 17 big league appearances. He comes into this game sporting a 5.72 ERA in 11 outings this season but has fared better in his seven starts, posting a 4.76 ERA in those games.

Given Howard’s brief time in the majors, it should come as no surprise that today’s lineup has virtually zero prior experience against him. In fact, the only player to have ever faced him before is Adam Eaton, who recorded one hit in two at-bats against him last year while playing for the Washington Nationals. One key for the Halo bats in this one will be patience, as Howard has struggled with free passes so far this year to the tune of a well below-average 12.5% walk rate. Working counts and laying off pitches out of the zone will help get traffic on the bases against the Rangers starter, and doing that may very well lead to the crooked numbers that have eluded the Angels offense over the last week or so.

Angels News and Notes

  • Angels manager Joe Maddon told reporters pre-game that he expects first baseman Jared Walsh back in the lineup sometime soon. Walsh suffered a right intercostal strain on July 26 against the Rockies and went on the injured list two days later.
  • Maddon also mentioned that outfielders Justin Upton and Adam Eaton have been taking ground balls at first base in preparation for the Halos’ upcoming series against the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. With no DH available in those games and Phil Gosselin being the team’s only first baseman after Matt Thaiss was sent back down to AAA, either of them might be needed in the infield in the event of some late-game switches by Maddon. Both Upton and Eaton have never played anywhere but the outfield in their major-league careers.
  • After getting the day off in yesterday’s game, Max Stassi returns to the Angels lineup looking to extend his season-best hitting streak to nine games.
  • Look out for the potential debut of Packy Naughton, who was called up from AAA yesterday, in today’s game. Naughton was one of the players acquired by the Angels last season in the trade that sent Brian Goodwin to the Reds, and he is the club’s 19th-ranked prospect according to Fangraphs. He could potentially be the first man out of the bullpen on Thursday depending on how things shake out.