This series was supposed to be the series. A clash between two AL West heavyweights that were supposed to duke it out all year for the division crown.
Alas, that is not the case. The Rangers are a virtual lock for the postseason, coming into the series at 87-59 with a three game lead over the A’s in the AL West. They are still playing for the division, so they wont be coming in looking to get some young kids into the games, they’re here to play ball. Conversely, the Angels are fighting for their postseason lives. With a record of 80-67 and trail the Orioles in the Wild Card standings by two and half games (The O’s start a series tonight with Mariners while the Angels have an off day so that number will change).
Tuesday night pits Jered Weaver against Ryan Dempster in the opener of the series. After getting torched by the Angels in his American League debut, and then again by the Yankees two starts later, Dempster has been what he was expected to be after the Rangers traded for him at the deadline going 5-0 in his last five starts with a 1.91 ERA. Weaver is coming off his first start since being skipped in the rotation to deal with Bicep tendinitis. Weaver went seven scoreless innings in that start against the Athletics, giving up two hits and striking out nine.
Wednesday night brings C.J. Wilson to the mound to square off against Derek Holland. Wilson was not very effective in his last start giving up four runs (three earned) and only lasting five innings. In the six starts prior, Wilson has only breached the 100 pitch mark twice, and has failed to get past the fifth in all but two of those starts. This strategy seems to be working though as the Angels have won each of his last five starts. Holland comes in with a 3-0 mark carrying a 2.98 ERA in his last seven starts where only once did he not get past the sixth inning. For the balance of the season he has been so-so, but right now he is a pitcher in the zone.
Thursday night has Zack Greinke going head to head with Yu Darvish. Poor Zack was the victim of some serious bad luck in his last start. He went 8 1/3 innings then watched from the bench as four pitches later the Royals were walking off with the win. Tough. Luck. Greinke for his career has been very good in September (21-10, 2.96 ERA, 85 OPS+ against) and the Angels are hoping he continues that trend. He hasn’t lost a start since August 19th, and hasn’t given up more than two runs in a start since then either. Yu Darvish got touched for seven runs the last time he faced the Halos. Since then he has pitched into the seventh inning in each start, while only once registering less than eight strikeouts.
Even though this series doesn’t have the playoff implications it was supposed to have, both teams are still chasing playoff spots, and should stage quite the series.
Get your thunderstix out, paint your face and the town red, or load up on heartburn medicine like I did, because this series is going to be fun. Or nerve wracking. Or both. NURSE?