The first of four pivotal games in the American League West begin tonight when the Rangers dig in to face Lackey. There aren't a lot of ways to get to the Abilene native when he's on the hill, but the Rangers have found a way to do it in the past. In his career against the Rangers, Lackey is 7-8 with a 5.38 earned run average. That includes a 3-5 record with an ERA of almost 7.00 in Arlington.. Michael Young holds a very commendable .339 average against him, but Mark Teixeira seems to have the big righty figured out: He has hit for a career .447 average against Lackey, with 17 hits in 38 at-bats. Coming off a 14 run, 16 hit attack yesterday against a solid pitcher like Chien-Ming Wang, you would hope that offensive production like that continues.
Saturday, 2:45 PM: Bartolo Colon (2-0, 3.46) vs. Kameron Loe (1-2, 5.76)
After two straight bad outings, Kameron Loe rebounded nicely and pitched well against a struggling Blue Jays ball club last Sunday. Loe held Toronto to one run over 6.2 innings of work en route to sweeping the Blue Jays last weekend, and with Jamey Wright coming off the disabled list in the near future he will need to string together more performances like that one in order for the Rangers to keep the right-hander in their rotation plans. Meanwhile, Bartolo Colon's scheduled start was looking iffy up until yesterday thanks to a nagging biceps strain. But he threw off a mound Thursday afternoon and now looks ready to face the Rangers. It's not uncommon that strains like that turn out to be shoulder problems in reality, so while it surely will be a relief for the Angels to get him back out on the hill, it has to be a situation they'll want to keep a close eye on.
Sunday, 2:05 PM: Ervin Santana (2-5, 5.23) vs. Mike Wood (0-1, 6.39)
Are more injury troubles in the forecast for the Rangers? Right now, it's too early to say. But some shuffling in the pitching staff has Mike Wood slated to make his third start on Sunday in place of a Robinson Tejeda. After taking the loss on Wednesday against the Yankees, Tejeda stated that his arm and shoulder have been bothering him. Soon after, the Rangers decided to rest him another day and are holding off on putting the righty on the disabled list - but if there's no change in his condition, the Rangers will have to make a move and could turn to John Koronka to pitch in his place. For the Angels, Ervin Santana continues to be a mystery. He's always been a better pitcher at home then on the road, and so far this year it's no different: In Anahim, Santana has a 2.97 earned run average while on the road it balloons to almost 8.00. In a loss against the White Sox on April 27th, Santana put 11 men on base in less than six innings. Calling for a repeat offensive performance of Thursday afternoon is a very premature, but all the ingredients are there for the Texas bats to do some home cookin' on Mother's Day.
Monday, 1:05 PM: Jered Weaver (1-3, 4.26) vs. Kevin Millwood (2-3, 5.88)
Kevin Millwood makes his return from the 15-day disabled list in the finale of this series on Monday afternoon. In his one start against the Angels last season, Millwood didn't factor into the decision but allowed four runs over seven innings of work in a 7-6 Rangers win. He's had success against the Angels in his limited American League experience, holding them to just a .219 batting average over the span of four games. For the Angels, Weaver has been solid in four of the five outings since coming off the disabled list on April 17th. The problem for him has come in the form of a lack of run support. Still, he hasn't shown very many signs of slowing down after his rookie season and when the bats finally start bringing in some more runs for him - look out.