Angels Still Out Front

The Los Angeles Angels' latest slide has put a dent into their once sizable division lead.

The Angels look to get back on track against one of their favorite opponents when they open a three-game series against the lowly Texas Rangers on Tuesday.

Los Angeles (51-31) has the best record in baseball, but it has won just two of its last six games. The Angels had an eight-game lead over Seattle on June 24, but that lead has since been cut to 4 1/2.

Oddsmakers have made Los Angeles -125 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for todays game, the over/under has been set at 10.5un total runs (Matchup). Our public betting information shows that 66% of bets for this game have been placed on Los Angeles -125 (View MLB Bet Percentages).

Los Angeles has had no problems this season against the Rangers (34-48), though, winning six of seven, and outscoring them 42-22 in those games.

Vladimir Guerrero, who was selected to his eighth All-Star game on Sunday, has hit safely in 56 of 61 career games against Texas. He is 9-for-24 (.375) with a homer and six RBIs in seven games against them this season.

Casey Kotchman ended an 0-for-19 drought with a two-run home run in Sunday's 4-3 victory over Baltimore, and is 2-for-3 with two homers in his career against Tuesday's starter Kevin Millwood (4-7, 7.06 ERA).

Chone Figgins is batting .518 (29-for-56) with three triples and three doubles during his 13-game hitting streak - one shy of his career high - but is 0-for-10 lifetime against Millwood.

The Angels' Ervin Santana (5-8, 5.27) once again looks to shake his road struggles when he takes the hill on Tuesday.

Santana has pitched well in front of the home crowd, going 4-2 with a 3.42 ERA in eight starts at Angel Stadium, but is 1-6 with a 7.53 in eight road starts this season. He has allowed a major league-leading 13 home runs in 43 innings on the road.

At Rangers Ballpark on May 13, he gave up six runs and eight hits - including a season-high three homers - in six innings and received no decision in a 7-6 loss. Santana is 4-2 with a 6.32 ERA lifetime in eight starts against Texas, but is 1-2 with a 9.00 ERA in five career starts in Arlington.

On Tuesday, Santana yielded seven runs - five earned - and nine hits in five innings of a 12-4 loss to Kansas City. It was the first time in 72 career regular-season starts that the 24-year-old right-hander failed to strike out a batter.

"I can't tell you why he didn't strike out any batters," Angels pitching coach Mike Butcher said. "Physically he looks fine. I'd like to see him be more aggressive from the first pitch to the last one."

The Rangers lost to Boston 7-3 on Monday to split a four-game series with the AL East-leading Red Sox.

Texas, which opens a six-game homestand leading into the All-Star break with this game, has the second-worst record in the AL, but has won six of its last nine at Rangers Ballpark.

All-Star shortstop Michael Young is batting .423 (22-for-52) in his last 12 home games, and is 10-for-22 (.455) with a home run and a double in his career against Santana.

Millwood has given up 10 runs in 18 innings over his last three starts, a significant improvement from his previous three games when he was tagged for 20 runs - 16 earned - in 13 innings.

The right-hander gave up three runs, five hits and a matched a career high with six walks in six innings of a 5-2 loss to Detroit on Thursday.

"Aside from the walks, I thought this was the best that I've thrown the ball in a long time," said Millwood, who had won his prior two starts.

While Millwood has pitched better lately, he lost both of his starts against the Angels this season, allowing seven runs in just 6 2-3 innings in those games. He is 1-2 with a 4.55 ERA in five career starts against Los Angeles.

by: Michael Cash - thespread.com – Email Us

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