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TEX@CHC: Holland shuts out Cubs over seven frames

Angels outfielder Mike Trout isn't letting the talk about his numbers get to him.

The term "sophomore slump" has been tossed around regarding Trout's .307/.346/.507 line this season, and sure, his numbers are slightly down from the MVP-like .313/.370/.531 line he sported through his first 17 Major League games last year.

Regardless, the former American League Rookie of the Year Award winner said one-upping his personal numbers from last season isn't his main focus.

"[I'm] just playing my game, playing baseball," Trout said. "I'm not worried about that stuff. Just trying to get wins."

Angels manager Mike Scioscia isn't worried either, adding that a player's ability to warm up at the start of the season can be unpredictable.

"You always try to carry momentum, but I think the reality of it every game you have to build your own momentum," Scioscia said. "What you want to carry is that feeling of confidence when you are doing things on the field that are going to carry [you] to a win."

Angels pitcher Joe Blanton will get the start in the opener, as he faces off with the Rangers' Derek Holland. Blanton was lights-out during Spring Training, but he has allowed at least four runs without passing the five-inning mark in three regular season starts. As Blanton tries to improve on his 0-3 record Monday, Rangers outfielder David Murphy said his club won't take the slow-starting Angels lightly.

"They had a slow start last year, then came on strong and just missed out on the playoffs," Murphy said. Everybody knows what kind of team they are and what kind of talent they have. Even though they haven't played well, you still can't take them lightly."

Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler agreed, saying his club isn't interested in taking a day off.

"You take them like every other team in the big leagues. You have to play well every day to win in the big leagues. There are no breaks and no time to relax. The Angels are exactly that. You have to go in there ready to play and expect their best baseball from them."

That attitude from the Rangers' lineup should mesh well with Holland as he looks to improve on an already strong record against the Angels. The left-hander is 7-5 against the Halos over his career, and he is coming off a strong outing against the Cubs on Tuesday. Holland threw seven scoreless innings in the 4-2 victory, and he is sporting a 1.64 ERA through three starts this season.

Angels: Field chemistry
The Halos have a 7-10 record following Sundays win over the Tigers. That is one game better than last year's record through 17 games, and Scioscia said his club is facing similar challenges this year.

"It took us a little while to find that on-field chemistry at the start of last season, and this year hopefully we are going to find it a little quicker.

"It's tough to put one blanket statement over the whole team, because there are some guys that are going to find it, they're working very hard to find it. With some guys, there's some things, especially on the pitching end where [pitching coach Mike Butcher] has had to interject to make some things go."

Angels: Divisional stretch
Monday's game marks the start of an important part of the schedule for the Angels, as they will play nine straight games against the AL West. Following their sweep over Detroit, slugger Josh Hamilton said the entire team will start the trip with some extra confidence.

"Everything, the last three days, has been clicking -- talking about pitching, playing defense, getting hits with guys in scoring position," Hamilton said. "That's the way we're capable of playing and the way we expect to play."

Rangers: Tepesch set to return
After hurting his wrist on a line drive by Jesus Montero last Saturday, Rangers starter Nick Tepesch is expected to make his next start Thursday. Tepesch said he was feeling good when he arrived at the Ballpark in Arlington Sunday morning.

"It's kind of sore, but not too bad," Tepesch said after getting treatment. "I figured it would be a little more sore this morning, but I kept a compression on it. It feels pretty good other than being a little stiff."

Rangers: Beltre hot in L.A.
Adrian Beltre has 28 career home runs against the Angels. That's tied for the second most by any active player. Alex Rodriguez has 70 and Jason Giambi also has 28.

Worth Noting
• The Angels bats may have finally warmed up following Sunday's win over the Tigers. The Angels scored a season-high 21 runs in the sweep.

• Mark Trumbo launched his third career walk-off homer for the Angels on Sunday, and he has a hit in 15 of the team's 17 games. Comments