While it's true the Oakland Athletics are the biggest immediate threat to the Texas Rangers and their chances of winning their third straight AL West title with 16 games remaining in the season, the task at hand this week is the Los Angeles Angels. The Angels bolstered their lineup and starting pitching in free agency, paying huge money to Albert Pujols and former Rangers ace C.J. Wilson, to overtake the Rangers in the West, and it's been a pretty big disaster so far.
This week, when the teams play a three-game set in Anaheim beginning tonight, the Rangers can basically end any remote chance the Angels have of winning the division, and put a pretty big dent in their AL wild card hopes as well as the Angels currently sit three games back in that race.
At 7 1/2 games, the Rangers' lead over the Angels in the division is pretty safe, and the Angels' elimination number (number of Rangers wins plus Angels losses to eliminate the Angels from division title contention) is down to nine. If the Rangers swept, that number would be down to three.
The Angels aren't messing around this week as they'll throw their three No. 1 pitchers in what are three really intriguing pitching matchups.
First off, we'll get Jered Weaver vs. Ryan Dempster, then C.J. Wilson vs. Derek Holland and wrap it up with trade-deadline acquisition Zack Greinke vs. Yu Darvish.
As well as Ryan Dempster has pitched, the Rangers have never had much success against Weaver out west, so you can probably chalk that up as an Angels win. Game 2 is a toss-up between Wilson and Holland and give us Darvish over Greinke.
Really the only way the Angels can make this a meaningful series for them in a positive manner is to sweep the Rangers, and that's going to be a tall task against a team that hasn't lost consecutive games in what seems like ages.
Might want to start working on that eulogy, Angels fans.