After a devastating loss Sunday, the Angels try to keep their very slim playoff hopes alive in Monday night's opener against the AL West champion Rangers.Los Angeles (86-73) has no margin for error to capture the AL wild card, sitting three games behind Boston with three remaining. The Angels had a fantastic opportunity to pull closer Sunday, but blew a three-run, ninth-inning lead in a 6-5 loss to Oakland."This game really hurts," Torii Hunter said. "We've got an uphill battle. But at the same time, we've still got life left and we're still breathing."Texas (93-66), meanwhile, leads AL Central champion Detroit by one game for the second-best record in the league. Finishing ahead of the Tigers -- who hold the tiebreaker -- would guarantee the Rangers open the playoffs at home.Texas matched a franchise record with a 52nd home victory with Sunday's 12-5 win over Seattle. Adrian Beltre hit his 30th homer, and is batting .414 with 10 home runs and 20 RBIs in his last 14 games."We know we'll be playing somebody in the playoffs, but we'd like to play at home," C.J. Wilson told the Rangers' official website.Wilson (16-7, 2.97 ERA) is slated to take the ball Monday, but likely won't pitch deep for multiple reasons.Manager Ron Washington announced Wilson will start the division series opener for the Rangers, scheduled to begin Friday, meaning the left-hander will be taking the ball on three days' rest. Wilson also left his last start with a blister on the middle finger of his pitching hand, something Washington will monitor closely.Wilson gave up two runs and five hits in six innings of a 3-2 win over Oakland on Wednesday, but didn't receive a decision. He also struck out eight to increase his total to 206, making him the first Texas lefty to have 200 or more strikeouts in a season.Wilson had some trouble in his last start against Los Angeles, allowing six runs and 10 hits in five innings of an 8-4 loss Aug. 27. He has a 1.35 ERA in four career starts in Anaheim, however.Like Wilson, Angels scheduled starter Dan Haren (16-9, 3.16) also left his latest outing with an injury.In Toronto on Wednesday, Haren's night ended in the eighth inning after he was hit by a line drive on the inside of the left wrist. X-rays were negative, and the right-hander doesn't believe it will have an impact on his final regular-season start."It shouldn't limit anything," Haren told the Angels' official website. "I'm going light in between starts this time of year anyway."Although being hit ended his outing against Toronto, Haren was likely done anyway, having thrown 114 pitches. He yielded a run and four hits in a 7-2 victory to match his career high for wins, set in 2008 with Arizona.Haren has been touched up for seven runs in each of his last two starts against the Rangers, going 4 1/3 innings in each. He had posted a 1.72 ERA in his previous five starts versus Texas.Both Beltre and Michael Young have given Haren trouble throughout his career. Beltre is hitting .469 (23 for 49) with two homers lifetime against Haren, while Young is batting .327 (16 for 49).The Rangers are 9-7 against the Angels in 2011, and can clinch their third straight season series versus Los Angeles with a win.
From Elias: The Rangers have a .323 team batting average in September. If that holds up, that will be the best September batting average by a major league team since the 1936 White Sox hit .324 in September.
The Rangers are slugging .542 this month.
If that holds up, it will be the best slugging percentage in September in the Live Ball Era (since 1920).
The current best is .535 by the 1999 Rangers.
Dan Haren is 9-3 with a 2.45 ERA at home this season.