HERE COMES THE ANGELS

BY: Richard W. Humphrey

Texas shut out the White Sox 2-0 Sunday evening to avert a sweep of the series and complete the week with a 3-3 record. Scott Feldman pitched two stellar games to earn the wins in two of three winning efforts. He tossed 15 innings on the week, allowing just a run on a solo home run to his former teammate Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and he walked no one, while striking out 10. In the “what have you done for me lately” category, he is the Rangers’ hottest pitcher.

The offensive woes continue. The Rangers have scored the fewest runs (71) of any team in baseball this month and are on pace for the team’s lowest runs scored per game for any month in 20 years. For the weekend series with the White Sox, they scored just nine runs total, were 1-31 with runners in scoring position, and left 27 runners on base.

Josh Hamilton failed to get a hit in the series going 0-6 with a pair of walks. Manager Ron Washington gave him the day off Saturday in hopes of rejuvenating him. He is hitting .141 for the month of July after batting .223 in June. He has struck out 56 times since the end of May. When Washington made out Sunday’s lineup, he dropped Hamilton from his customary number three spot to fifth.

Hopes of landing a difference making top of the rotation starter were dashed Friday evening when the Angels completed a trade with Milwaukee for Zach Greinke. Milwaukee had been seeking a shortstop in exchange for Greinke, and the Angels sent Jean Segura, LA’s top prospect who was already in the Major Leagues. Two other minor league pitchers, both rated in the Angels’ top 10 prospects were also included.

The Rangers also got disturbing news on Neftali Feliz, who was scratched Sunday from a minor league re-hab start with elbow discomfort. The severity of the problem won’t be known until the Rangers’ team physician makes an examination, but it for sure is a set back and could mean Feliz will not pitch for the Rangers again this season.

The Angels arrive for four games this week. They trail the Rangers by five games and have actually slipped behind Oakland into third place. For both teams, these games are twice as impactful as a normal game, as a win is not only a win, but puts a loss on a chief competitor. For example, if the Rangers win Monday, their lead over LA goes to six games. If they lose, the lead is down to four. That’s a two-game swing in the standings for one game played on the field.

Greinke pitched Sunday, so won’t appear in this series. The Angels lead off with Ervin Santana in game one of the series, followed by Jerod Weaver, Dan Haren and C. J. Wilson. Texas counters with Roy Oswalt, Derek Holland, Yu Darvish and Matt Harrison.

The trade deadline is now less than 24 hours away. The Rangers added Cliff Lee two years ago, and relievers Mike Adams and Koji Uehara last year. They undoubtedly will pull the trigger on some sort of deal by Tuesday afternoon. They are likely pursuing another top starter, though the possibilities look doubtful. One thought is to get a bullpen arm to free up Alexi Ogando for the rotation. Ogando threw 44 pitches in a relief appearance Friday against the White Sox, the most he’s thrown in a game this year, apparently in an effort to stretch him out to be able to go at least five innings as a starter. Jonathan Broxton has been rumored as an available bullpen arm.

The Rangers’ bigger need may be to obtain a right handed bat. This offense needs a spark, and an outsider may be able to provide it. In any event, it should be an interesting day leading up to the 3:00 PM Central trade deadline on Tuesday.

Follow on Twitter @rangerrap.

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