Two teams who are running out of time in the playoff race square off Friday, when the Los Angeles Angels host the Texas Rangers for the opener of their three-game series. Los Angeles began its nine-game homestand by dropping two of three to Houston, including a 5-2 decision on Thursday that dropped the club three games behind Minnesota for the second wild-card spot in the American League.
The Angels managed only five hits on Thursday, with four going for extra bases. Luis Valbuena hit his 21st homer of the year, putting him four away from matching the career high he set in 2015 with Houston, while Albert Pujols belted the 613th of his career to pass Jim Thome for sole possession of seventh place on the all-time list. The Rangers are coming off a 10-4 setback against Seattle on Thursday in which they produced just six hits. Rougned Odor homered and drove in four runs for Texas, which has dropped three straight games and trails the Twins by five games for the AL wild card.
TV: 10:07 p.m. ET, FSN Southwest (Texas), FSN West (Los Angeles)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Rangers RH Nick Martinez (3-6, 5.40 ERA) vs. Angels RH Bud Norris (2-5, 4.25)
Martinez will be making his fourth consecutive road start and first since Aug. 31, when he took the loss at Houston despite allowing just two runs and five hits in five innings. The 27-year-old Floridian has come out of the bullpen twice since that outing, working two scoreless frames at Atlanta on Sept. 4 before surrendering four runs and five hits while recording only two outs against the New York Yankes on Sunday. Martinez is 2-3 with a 2.76 ERA in nine career appearances (seven starts) against the Angels, including a no-decision on April 28 in which he yielded three runs over six innings.
Norris is expected to make his first start of the season after 56 relief appearances, with six of his last seven being one-run scoreless outings. The 32-year-old Californian, who is with his fifth team in three years, has registered the first 19 saves of his career this season while striking out 66 in 53 innings. Norris owns a 2-2 record and 4.33 ERA in 10 career appearances (three starts) versus the Rangers.
1. Angels RHP Keynan Middleton exited Thursday’s loss in the seventh inning after retiring the only batter he faced due to nerve irriration in his right elbow.
2. Texas 3B/1B Joey Gallo recorded two of the team’s six hits on Thursday, matching his total from the previous seven contests.
3. Los Angeles RHP Huston Street (shoulder) has ben throwing in simulated games in Arizona and hopes to return before the end of the season.
PREDICTION: Angels 5, Rangers 2