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TEX@LAA: Richards fan nine Rangers over six frames

The Angels were a game below .500 when they finished off a nine-game homestand, headed into a Thursday off-day and prepped for a six-game road trip through Toronto and Philadelphia.

All things considered, not bad.

The Angels are trying to make due with a shorthanded lineup that hasn't had its leadoff hitter (Kole Calhoun) since April 15 and its cleanup hitter (Josh Hamilton) since April 8. They nonetheless have a run-differential of plus-23, despite a 9-2 loss to the Yankees on Wednesday, and eight of their 17 losses have been by a single run.

As C.J. Wilson said, "You have to think that when we get back to full strength that some of these games will go in our favor a lot more."

"I think our starting rotation has been terrific," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said of a staff that boasted a 3.74 ERA before Hector Santiago was charged with six runs (two earned) in 2 1/3 innings on Wednesday. "I don't think you can ask much more out of those five guys; just to pitch as deep as they have and give us chances to win. But we have to hold leads. I think that's a real point of our club that needs to improve, and we feel it will."

The Angels head to Rogers Centre having won seven of their last eight games against the Blue Jays, including each of the last three games in Canada when they swept a three-game series Sept. 10-12 last season. In six of the eight wins against the Blue Jays, the Angels have scored at least seven runs.

Taking the ball on Friday will be right-hander Garrett Richards, who's 3-0 with a 2.84 ERA. He will oppose righty Dustin McGowan (2-1 with a 4.80 ERA).

Richards will do his best to make the Angels forget about Wednesday -- a game that saw them fall behind by six runs through the first one and a half innings.

"Turn the page on this one," Scioscia said after completing a 5-4 homestand. "There's some losses that are tough. In this one, we didn't really give ourselves much of a chance. We'll get back at it. We've lost some games that we've played well. Tonight, we didn't play well. But when it's all said and done, we're seeing some things coming together as this season has moved on."

Angels: Starters finally on normal rest
A quirk in the schedule gave the Angels six consecutive Thursdays off to start the season, with the last one coming just before the road trip. Because of that, the Angels have basically played their season in six-game blocks. And because of that, they've had a starter go on the traditional four days' rest just five times, the lowest total in the Majors. For the 28 other games, their starters have gone five days or more between starts, which is not ideal.

Blue Jays: Bautista keeps the streak alive
Jose Bautista singled in the bottom of the seventh inning on Thursday night and has now reached base in all of Toronto's 35 games. It's the longest streak to start a season since Albert Pujols did it for 41 games in 2008. Bautista is also closing in on the Blue Jays' all-time record for consecutive games reaching base, which was set at 38 by Carlos Delgado in 1998. Overall, Bautista leads in the Major Leagues in walks with 34 and is first in the American League with a 1.023 OPS.

Worth noting
• Raul Ibanez's infield single in the seventh inning on Wednesday -- on a ball fielded by second baseman Brian Roberts in shallow right field -- snapped an 0-for-18 slump by the Angels' designated hitter, who's batting .146 on the year.

• Mike Trout enters the road trip with just one hit in his last 16 at-bats, with his batting average dropping from .308 to .287 over his last five games. Trout has batted .219/.324/.469 in eight career games at Rogers Centre.

• The Blue Jays have homered in eight consecutive games and in 15 of their past 16. They are coming off a game in which they hit a season-high five home runs vs. the Phillies and they currently lead the American League with 49 homers.

• The Blue Jays' Juan Francisco is on an eight-game hitting streak. He has at least one hit in all but three of his 17 games this season and eight of his 19 hits have gone for extra bases (two doubles, one triple and five home runs). Comments