espn

Bottom of lineup leading Rangers vs. Angels

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Texas Rangers own one of the deepest lineups in baseball, in part, because of what they've been able to get at the bottom end.

The last third of the lineup for much of the season has been Mitch Moreland, rookie Nomar Mazara and Elvis Andrus. Moreland and Mazara each have at least 20 home runs. Andrus is batting close to .300.

"We talk about it all year long, the ability to stretch our lineup out," manager Jeff Banister said. "We've really gotten some tremendous production out of the bottom third of our lineup this year."

The Los Angeles Angels, like the rest of the American League, have been witness to what the Rangers can do deep in the order. Texas has won the first two games of the final series between the AL West rivals thanks in large part to the last three hitters in the lineup.

Mazara has hit two homers in the series. Elvis has four hits, including a home run, and scored the winning run Monday. Moreland drove in a run in Tuesday's 5-4 victory.

"The pitcher just can't take a break," Banister said. "Up and down the lineup, there are hitters than can hurt you with the long ball, single you and double you to death, and they can take a walk when they need to."

The Rangers shoot for the sweep with Derek Holland taking what would have been Cole Hamels' normal turn in the rotation. Hamels was pushed back to Friday's series opener at Oakland to get him on track to start the opener of the AL Division Series on Oct. 6.

Holland appears destined for the bullpen once the postseason rolls around. The lefty made three quality starts after returning from a two-month stint on the disabled list but was shelled in his last two outings.

Banister hasn't officially set the playoff rotation yet, other than lining up Hamels and Yu Darvish for the first two games. Holland does have time to make an impression on his manager.

Jered Weaver takes the rubber for the Angels, making his 30th start of the season and 14th on the road. The veteran right-hander has enjoyed his most success against Texas, going 17-8 with a 3.38 ERA. Those are Weaver's most wins against any opponent.

Though a playoff berth is imminent, the Rangers are trying not to look ahead. Texas' magic number to clinch the AL West is down to two.

"We've got a ballgame we need to play (Wednesday)," Banister said. "We're facing a guy we haven't had a whole lot of success against. We need to find a way to put some runs on the board. We need for Derek Holland to go out and pitch a good game."

Banister isn't consumed with the wild card race and who the Rangers might face in the ALDS.

"I've got a number of people doing that for me," he said. "We've got as many scouts out there as possible on all situations. We have to earn the right to play them, and we haven't done that yet."
Related Topics:
sportsespntexas rangersmlblos angeles angels
(Copyright ©2016 ESPN Internet Ventures. All rights reserved.)

Load Comments