Thursday, April 7, 2016

Lefties Santiago, Holland duel to open 4-game slate

The Angels' 2015 season ended against the Rangers. It was Oct. 4, 2015, the day after the furious, five-run, ninth-inning rally that temporarily saved their playoff hopes. The Angels needed to win Game 162 in Arlington to force a tiebreaker against the Astros, who were holding on to the final Wild Card spot in the American League, but the Rangers won easily, captured the division title and sent the Angels home for the winter.
Now, they'll meet again.
The Angels host a four-game series against the Rangers starting on Thursday, after the Rangers concluded a three-game home series against the division-rival Mariners. Derek Holland takes the mound for Texas in the opener opposite fellow lefty Hector Santiago, with game time set for 7:05 p.m. PT.
Santiago made the All-Star team on the strength of a stellar first half last season, but struggled down the stretch, with a 5.49 ERA in the final two months. Holland returned from a pulled muscle in his throwing shoulder in the middle of August and finished the year 4-3 with a 4.91 ERA.
Holland said he made improvements to his repertoire during Spring Training.
"I'm very happy with the way things have been going this whole spring," Holland said. "I've felt very confident with my offspeed pitches. I felt like they've improved each time I went out there. … The offspeed is probably the biggest struggle with everybody. As a pitcher, we want to continue to make our stuff sharper, and I felt like that was a very important thing for me this year."
Things to know
• Despite losing the regular-season finale, the Angels won 12 of 19 games against the Rangers last year. It was the third time in the last four years that the Angels have won the season series.
• Former Angels outfielder Josh Hamilton probably won't make the trip to Anaheim with his Rangers teammates. Hamilton is dealing with a knee injury that could have him back by the middle of May.
• Holland won both of his starts against the Angels last year, but he has a 5.32 ERA against them for his career. Santiago has a 3.36 ERA in 72 1/3 career innings against the Rangers.

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