MLB

Rangers-Angels Preview

Because things haven't gone his way the past two seasons, a finally healthy Derek Holland is embracing an opportunity to help the Texas Rangers reach the postseason.

Jered Weaver should be grateful for another chance to pitch at home against the Rangers.

While Holland hopes to build on a stellar effort, Weaver will try to continue his home dominance in the series as the Los Angeles Angels look to move up in the playoff chase Saturday night.

Holland (2-1, 2.82 ERA) had high hopes after missing most of 2014 following left knee surgery, but he lasted just nine pitches in the home opener April 10 because of a torn labrum.

After missing more than four months, the left-hander shook off the rust by going 1-0 with a 4.38 ERA in his first two starts back last month. He then looked fully recovered Sunday when he threw a three-hitter with 11 strikeouts and no walks in a 6-0 home win over Baltimore.

Holland retired the final 14 batters en route to his eighth career shutout and first since 2013.

"It was kind of sad and disappointing that he has been hurt the last couple years and not able to pitch," third baseman Adrian Beltre told MLB's official website. "We all know how much he loves to be out there. It's nice to have him back healthy and doing what he did."

The Rangers have a 1 1/2-game lead in the race for the AL's second wild card and are within three of West-leading Houston. However, they're looking to avoid losing back-to-back games for only the second time since a three-game skid from Aug. 9-12 after Friday's 5-2 defeat.

Holland will try to win his third straight decision in his first road appearance since last September. He's 3-4 with a 5.90 ERA in nine career starts in Anaheim, but hasn't pitched there since 2013.

Erick Aybar is batting .348 with eight doubles in 46 at-bats in the matchup, and Mike Trout is hitting .346 with two home runs in 26 at-bats. Trout also has a .426 average with four homers while the Angels (68-66) have taken nine of 13 in the season series.

C.J. Cron fell a homer short of the cycle and had five RBIs on Friday as Los Angeles won its third straight to get within 2 1/2 games of Texas. Cron is hitting .460 with 17 RBIs in his 12 meetings this season.

''This is a good opportunity (against the Rangers),'' he said. ''If we can cut (their lead) down a little bit this weekend, that's what we want to do.''

Weaver will take the mound looking to improve on his 3-1 record and 2.14 ERA over his last seven starts at Angel Stadium. Facing the Rangers (70-63) for the first time this season, Weaver is 10-0 with a 2.30 ERA in 16 career home meetings.

The right-hander, though, has struggled mightily in his past two starts, going 1-1 with a 10.80 ERA. He allowed a season-high eight runs and nine hits over six innings in Sunday's 9-2 loss at Cleveland.

Shin-soo Choo is batting .378 in 37 at-bats versus Weaver (6-10, 4.94), but Adrian Beltre has had a tougher time with a .228 average and one homer in 79 at-bats.

Former Angel Josh Hamilton is limited to pinch-hit duty due to a sore left knee, while Los Angeles will be without Johnny Giavotella indefinitely due to fourth cranial nerve palsy.

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