On Deck: Angels

On Deck will be here all season to provide you with everything you need to know (and a few things you don't) about every Rangers series during the 2014 season. 

The Opponent: The Angels have not only the second-best record in the American League West, but they currently have the second-best record in all of baseball.

Past 2014 Meetings: The Angels have won four of six games against the Rangers this year, including a three-game sweep last month in Anaheim.

Pitching Matchups: Thursday — Colby Lewis (6-5, 5.51 ERA) vs. Hector Santiago (0-7, 4.50); Friday — Nick Tepesch (3-4, 4.29) vs. Garrett Richards (10-2, 2.71); Saturday — Miles Mikolas (0-1, 12.46) vs. Jered Weaver (9-6, 3.50); Sunday — Phil Irwin (0-1, 6.75) vs. Tyler Skaggs (4-5, 4.15).

What's Hot: Jake Smolinski, of all people, is red-hot. The recent call-up from Round Rock had hits in five consecutive at-bats from Tuesday's game into Wednesday's. Elvis Andrus is hitting .333 with three doubles and three RBIs in his last seven games, and Adrian Beltre is batting .345 with a double, triple and three homers in that same span. Colby Lewis is riding a streak of two straight quality starts after going nearly two years without one.

Howie Kendrick is batting .500 over his last seven games with seven RBIs in that span, only to be bested by slugger Albert Pujols. Pujols is batting .448 in the same span with three homers and a team-high 10 RBIs. The Angels' bullpen is no longer the laughable Angels' bullpen. They parted ways with Ernesto Frieri, who the Rangers owned, and replaced him with Jason Grilli, who's pitched four scoreless outings in the past week.

What's Not: Other than Lewis, the Rangers' rotation, which now features Mikolas and Irwin, has been awful. In turn, the bullpen has mirrored their performance due to being overworked. Rookie second baseman Rougned Odor is hitting .192 in his last seven games.

Sports Connection

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A reason for some glimmer of hope for the Rangers? Mike Trout is hitting just .214 over the last seven games, and Josh Hamilton is batting .120.

Familiar Faces: Josh Hamilton went from AL MVP with the Rangers to Public Enemy No. 1 in Globe Life Park and will make his season debut in Texas, surely to a chorus of boos. The Rangers will miss C.J. Wilson in the Angels' rotation.

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