Launching Pad: Surprise teams square off

What to expect in the major leagues today:

Unlikely leaders

Vladimir Guerrero could be poised for another big series against the Athletics.
Vladimir Guerrero could be poised for another big series against the Athletics.

As the Angels and Mariners try to recover from poor starts, the Rangers and A’s are vying for control of the AL West. They will begin a three-game series at Rangers Ballpark this evening, just a week after Oakland took two of three at home against Texas. In that series, A’s outfielder Ryan Sweeney did the bulk of the damage, homering and driving in six runs. Rangers DH Vladimir Guerrero had an identical line and could be even more dangerous in this series given his career-long success at Texas’ home park.

Unlikely leaders, Part 2

It is no surprise that the Giants are in contention for the NL West title, but it is shocking that the Padres remain in the thick of the race. San Diego swept a three-game series against San Francisco at Petco Park last month, but it didn’t face Tim Lincecum or Barry Zito. That won’t be the case tonight when the teams meet at AT&T Park. Zito will be looking for his sixth win, which he didn’t get until late July last season.

First vs. last

Busch Stadium holds a special spot in the Astros’ hearts, as it was there that they snapped the first of their two eight-game losing streaks this season and picked up their first win of 2010. Of course, Houston was outscored 7-1 in the first two games of that series. The Astros will return to St. Louis tonight for the first of three against the first-place Cardinals. The Cardinals will be looking to avenge that loss, as well as trying to bury the Astros even deeper in the N.L. Central cellar. As usual, expect Albert Pujols to lead the way. In the three games against Houston this season, the reigning N.L. MVP is hitting .455 with a homer, two doubles and five RBIs.

Chris Bahr is Sporting News’ baseball editor. E-mail him at cbahr@sportingnews.com.

What to expect in the major leagues today:

Unlikely leaders

Vladimir Guerrero could be poised for another big series against the Athletics.
Vladimir Guerrero could be poised for another big series against the Athletics.

As the Angels and Mariners try to recover from poor starts, the Rangers and A’s are vying for control of the AL West. They will begin a three-game series at Rangers Ballpark this evening, just a week after Oakland took two of three at home against Texas. In that series, A’s outfielder Ryan Sweeney did the bulk of the damage, homering and driving in six runs. Rangers DH Vladimir Guerrero had an identical line and could be even more dangerous in this series given his career-long success at Texas’ home park.

Unlikely leaders, Part 2

It is no surprise that the Giants are in contention for the NL West title, but it is shocking that the Padres remain in the thick of the race. San Diego swept a three-game series against San Francisco at Petco Park last month, but it didn’t face Tim Lincecum or Barry Zito. That won’t be the case tonight when the teams meet at AT&T Park. Zito will be looking for his sixth win, which he didn’t get until late July last season.

First vs. last

Busch Stadium holds a special spot in the Astros’ hearts, as it was there that they snapped the first of their two eight-game losing streaks this season and picked up their first win of 2010. Of course, Houston was outscored 7-1 in the first two games of that series. The Astros will return to St. Louis tonight for the first of three against the first-place Cardinals. The Cardinals will be looking to avenge that loss, as well as trying to bury the Astros even deeper in the N.L. Central cellar. As usual, expect Albert Pujols to lead the way. In the three games against Houston this season, the reigning N.L. MVP is hitting .455 with a homer, two doubles and five RBIs.

Chris Bahr is Sporting News’ baseball editor. E-mail him at cbahr@sportingnews.com.

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