The Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Angels will face each other for the first time this season when they meet in the opener of a three-game series in Arlington on Friday.  The two-time defending American League West champion Rangers (21-11) have won eight of the last 10 meetings with their division rivals and hope to continue that dominance this weekend.

Texas is coming off a doubleheader split with the Baltimore Orioles on Thursday, taking three of four in the series with outfielder Josh Hamilton slamming six homers with 12 RBIs.  Hamilton leads MLB with a .395 batting average and will be the focus of LA’s pitching staff.  The Angels (14-18) have won four of their last five games after taking two of three in a road series against the Minnesota Twins that ended on Thursday.

The pitching matchup on Friday might be the most intriguing one of the baseball betting season to date with current Rangers ace Yu Darvish (4-1, 2.54 ERA) facing former ace and current LA pitcher C.J. Wilson (4-2, 2.61).  Texas gave Darvish a guaranteed $56 million contract after Wilson bolted for a five-year, $77.5 million deal in Anaheim.  Neither player has ever pitched against the opposing team, although Wilson’s old teammates are obviously very familiar with him.

Wilson has won each of his last two starts after suffering consecutive losses, and he is 2-1 in three road starts with a 1.80 ERA.  Both of his previous two wins came at home, including a 6-2 victory against the Toronto Blue Jays last time out on Saturday.  The lefty allowed just two runs and six hits to the Blue Jays in eight innings of work, walking three and striking out nine.  Batters are hitting only .184 against him so far this season, which is ranked second in the AL.  However, the Rangers are hitting .305 against lefties this year and lead the majors with a .291 batting average overall.

Darvish will try to help Texas on the mound and bounce back after suffering his first career loss following a 4-0 mark in his first five major league starts.  He surrendered three earned runs and six hits in six innings of a 4-2 road loss to the Cleveland Indians on Sunday, walking four and striking out a career-high 11.  Darvish has given up a home run in his last two starts after failing to allow one in his first four.  In his last home start though, he did not allow a run in 8.1 innings of a 2-0 win over the New York Yankees on April 24, walking two and striking out 10.

This is a bigger game for the Rangers, especially back home against Wilson.  They will want to show the rest of the baseball world they made a smart decision letting him go and investing in Darvish.

Free Baseball Pick: Texas Rangers -145