If Angels are to make playoffs, they need to stay hot in Texas

Angels try to stay hot in Texas.

The Angels hope their run of success at Texas continues Thursday night when they open a crucial four-game, season-ending series against the Rangers — one that will determine the American League West champion and the second wild-card team.

The Angels are three games behind the Rangers in the AL West and half a game behind the Houston Astros for the second wild-card spot. Houston is off Thursday night and opens a three-game series at Arizona on Friday, so if the Angels win Thursday night, they will be tied with the Astros with three games left.

The Angels are 14-2 in their last 16 games in Arlington, Texas, and have outscored the Rangers, 120-54, in that span.

Among the players who have put up big numers in the 16 games since July 10, 2014, are Kole Calhoun (.349, five homers, 21 runs batted in), Erick Aybar (.365, 15 runs, 14 RBIs), Mike Trout (.302, two homers, 13 RBIs), Albert Pujols (.288, two homers, 12 RBIs) David Freese (.305, one homer, 11 RBIs.) and C.J. Cron (.367, one homer, nine RBIs.)

The opener will pit a pair of left-handers, Andrew Heaney of the Angels and Derek Holland of the Rangers. Texas surged into the division lead with an 18-10 record in September, and the Angels surged back into playoff contention with an 18-9 record.

The Angels had their seven-game win streak snapped in an error-filled, 8-7 loss to Oakland on Wednesday, a game in which seven of the Athletics’ runs were unearned.

Right-handed-hitting Shane Victorino will start over David Murphy in left field for the Angels, and former Angels Mike Napoli and Josh Hamilton are both in the lineup for the Rangers.

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