Friday, 9:05 PM: Vicente Padilla (4-9, 6.24) vs. Joe Saunders (7-2, 3.62)
Last Sunday, Vicente Padilla put together quite possibly his best outing since returning from the disabled list as he held the Seattle Mariners to a run on five hits over his six innings of work. Padilla had it in cruise control at one point in the contest, retiring 13 straight batters and didn't allow the Mariners to cross home plate until their half of the seventh inning. The Rangers have found themselves victorious in four of the last five games the righty has started, but a deeper look into his numbers offers a more sobering viewpoint. Padilla owns a 3-2 with a 4.64 ERA in eight games against the Angels but is 0-2 with a 6.94 ERA this season, and opponents have a .354 batting average when he's pitching on the road.
The Toronto Blue Jays touched up Joe Saunders for five runs on nine hits over just 5 1/3 innings in his last outing, the most runs he's given up in a start this season. It ended up being his worst start of the season, and came on the heels of a six game winning streak. The Virginia Tech alum has performed better on the road where opposing batters have hit .229 against him. At home, they're hitting .323. Saunders tends to get hit to certain degree because of his tendency to work around the plate. He's given up 82 hits in 74 2/3 innings this year, but also has twice as many strikeouts (41) as he does walks (21). Saunders is 6-2 with a 3.75 ERA in his last 10 starts, including six quality starts.
Saturday, 2:55 PM: Edinson Volquez, RHP (0-0, -.--): vs. Kelvim Escobar (15-6, 2.77)
Let's try this again: Edinson Volquez is on tap to make his season debut on Saturday in Anaheim. While he won't officially be added to the major league roster until the weekend, Volquez has already joined the Rangers in preparation for his Saturday start. In Triple-A Oklahoma, Volquez posted an impressive 6-1 record with a 1.41 ERA in eight starts. In four games, including two starts, Volquez is 0-3 with a 11.57 ERA in his career against the Angels.
Volquez will certainly have his work cut out for him in facing a tough Angels lineup, and a tough counterpart on the mound for the Angels in Kelvim Escobar. The native Venezuelan earned his career-high 15th victory on Sunday with eight strong innings against the Blue Jays at Angels Stadium. In that game, Escobar lowered his ERA to 2.77, good for second in the American League to the 2.72 of Oakland's Dan Haren. It was also his 10th consecutive quality start of 2007. Escobar claims that he didn't feel particularly sharp in the first two innings, but he nonetheless retired the six batters he faced, and also had perfect game through four innings.
Sunday, 7:05 PM: Kason Gabbard (6-1, 3.79) vs. John Lackey (16-8, 3.18)
Tuesday's start against the White Sox was a rough one for young Kason Gabbard. He allowed three earned runs on four hits with three strikeouts and three walks over 4 2/3 innings of work, but the Rangers' offense came to the rescue and picked up the win, leaving Gabbard with a no-decision. Gabbard has just one appearance against the Angels in his career: 1 2/3 innings of relief in a losing effort on August 22nd of last year.
Native Texan John Lackey was weakened by nasty bout of strep-throat in Seattle last Monday, but he fought through it valiantly, and wound up with his second complete game against the Mariners this season. At 16-8, Lackey has at least six starts to reach his first 20-win season, but the big right-hander insists he's more concerned with helping his team win ballgames instead. Lackey is 3-0 with a 2.79 ERA against the Rangers this year, and is 9-8 in with a 5.20 ERA in 22 career outings.