(Sports Network) - Runs were hard to come by for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in Thursday's opener of a four-game series versus the hosting Texas Rangers. They'll need a quick fix tonight, given Joe Saunders' career-long struggles against Texas.
The Angels, who are expected to debut new infielder Alberto Callaspo, will try to avoid falling further behind first-place Texas this evening in Arlington.
Last night's opener was no easy task for the Angels, who had to face new Rangers ace Cliff Lee, making his third start for Texas since being acquired from Seattle. Lee picked up his first victory since the trade after holding the Angels to pair of runs on five hits over 8 1/3 innings of a 3-2 Texas win. Neftali Feliz recorded the final two outs for his 26th save.
"Any time you get that deep into the game and give the team a chance, you have to feel good about it," said Lee.
Texas went ahead for good with a pair of runs in the sixth inning, getting an RBI double from Josh Hamilton, who later scored on Bengie Molina's sacrifice fly. Michael Young also homered in the win for the Rangers, who have won four of five and six of eight to push their advantage over the second-place Angels to six games in the American League West.
Angels starter Jered Weaver was solid in the loss, getting charged with three runs over six innings. Mike Napoli homered in defeat for Los Angeles, which has lost two straight and three of four.
"That's what it's all about. Going up against the best," said Weaver. "Tip your cap."
The Angels made a deal before last night's game, shipping pitchers Sean O'Sullivan and Will Smith to the Royals for Callaspo. The 27-year-old infielder is expected to join the club today and should see the majority of his playing time at third base after hitting .275 with eight homers and 43 RBI this year with Kansas City.
Callaspo will try to lend his new teammate some support as Saunders looks for his first victory in four starts. Saunders is 0-1 over his last three outings and is coming off a no-decision versus the Mariners on Saturday. The left- hander gave up five runs -- four earned -- on 10 hits over 5 2/3 innings of work and is 6-9 with a 4.83 ERA this season.
Saunders has yet to face the Rangers this year, but went 0-3 with a 16.88 ERA in three starts versus them last year, yielding 20 runs over 10 2/3 innings. Lifetime against Texas, the 29-year-old is 3-6 with a 7.19 ERA.
Rangers' starter C.J. Wilson seeks a second straight winning start after besting Boston on Sunday with 6 2/3 innings of one-run, three-hit ball while also striking out 10 in the outing. The 29-year-old southpaw improved to 8-5 with a 3.23 ERA this year and is 6-2 with a 3.54 ERA in 11 starts at home.
Wilson, who has allowed more than two earned runs just once in his last eight starts, is 0-1 in two starts versus the Angels this year and 1-3 with five saves and a 5.27 ERA in 30 lifetime outings against Anaheim, three of those starts.
Texas owns a 4-2 edge thus far in this year's season series and swept a two- game set from the Angels in Arlington back in May. Anaheim has lost in nine of 12 visits to Rangers Ballpark since the start of last season.