The Los Angeles Angels are the three-time reigning AL West champion and have a chance of trimming the Texas Rangers lead in the division with a four-game series in Arlington.  The Angels have compiled a 19-12 record against division opponents this season (+540) and the total is 16-13 O/U in those games.  Manager Mike Scioscia knows the importance of this series, but the season will not be lost if they fail to pick up any ground.  “We’re going to do it better, but we’re not going to change the way we play,” he said.  “You’ve got to play this game free.”  The Halos trail 3-2 in the season series with four of the five previous meetings being decided by just a single run.  Los Angeles has dropped eight of the last 11 meetings in Arlington.

Angels starting pitcher Jered Weaver is 9-5 with a 3.16 ERA and has won four of his last six decisions overall, posting a 1.67 ERA in the four victories.  He leads the Majors with 142 strikeouts and is on pace for his first career 200 strikeout season.  The right-hander has allowed two earned runs-or-less in 13 of 20 starts this year.  Los Angeles has actually lost the last six games that Weaver has started in Texas, with him producing a 6.17 ERA during that stretch.  He is making his 17th career starts versus the Rangers, going 4-3 with a 3.88 ERA, including tossing seven shutout innings to earn a 2-1 home victory over the club on July 1.

Texas started the second half of the season on the road in successful fashion, taking three of four against the Boston Red Sox before capturing a three-game series in Detroit.  The Rangers may have been looking ahead to this AL West showdown last night in Motown, failing to pick up a hit with runners in scoring position (0-8).  “It felt flat in the dugout,” outfielder Josh Hamilton said.  Texas is a solid 14-7 against division opponents this year (+710), as the total stands at 9-10 O/U in those contests.  The team’s five-game margin in the division is the second-largest of any division leader in baseball and the club has maintained at least a 3.5 game cushion for 32 straight days.  Despite all the early season success, the team is still a disappointing 13-18 when playing against a winning opponent (-830).

Rangers starting pitcher Cliff Lee is scheduled to make this 16th start in the series opener, posting an 8-4 record and 2.59 ERA.  He has gone 0-1 with a 4.00 ERA in his two starts with Texas, throwing exactly nine innings in each contest.  Lee is leading the American League in ERA (2.59) and complete games (6), while his .231 opponents batting average is 10th in the league.  He has faced the Angels just once in the past two seasons, picking up an 8-3 win as a member of the Seattle Mariners, allowing three runs (two earned) and four hits in eight innings.  In nine career games versus the Angels, he stands at 6-3 with a 3.18 ERA.

Bettors will take notice of Weaver’s struggles against the Rangers in Arlington and couple that with Lee’s four straight wins over the Angels.  It’s important to state that the Angels are a dominating 48-23 in their last 71 games with a total of 7.0-8.5.  Texas may have been “flat” in last night’s game, but the club is 4-0 in its last four home games following a road trip of seven or more days.?