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08/15/11 10:00 PM ET

Scioscia downplays showdown with Texas

ANAHEIM -- In typical Mike Scioscia fashion, the Angels' manager downplayed the importance of the team's four-game series against the Texas Rangers before Monday's opener.

"It is a game. No matter what happens, there is a lot of baseball left to play," Scioscia said. "Naturally, we want to be in a better position come the end of the series than how we came into it.

"The only way to get there is pitch to pitch, inning to inning and game to game, and that is what we want to do."

The Angels trail the Rangers by four games in the American League West after losing four of their last five.

"We had some games that we had some opportunities to finish teams off and couldn't do it," Scioscia said. "We know the challenge ahead of us."

Scioscia believes his team just needs to go out and play baseball.

"Even if the series gets away from us, I don't think the division is lost. I think it is an uphill battle," Scioscia said. "I don't think it is going to be won or lost come these four games."

Scioscia continues to preach that it is only the middle of August, knowing full well that the Angels play the Rangers six more times after the series.

"This is still Aug. 15, so you still have to look at the bigger picture," Scioscia said. "We need to become a better team, and that is what we are still focusing on.

"Hopefully guys will play baseball, just a little bit better."

Kendrick gets a breather

ANAHEIM -- Looking at the Angels' lineup for Monday's series opener against the Texas Rangers, a noticeable player was missing -- Howard Kendrick.

Manager Mike Scioscia said the decision came down to specific matchups against Rangers right-hander Alexi Ogando.

"We wanted to get Maicer Izturis and Alberto Callaspo in there to get a few more left-handed bats against Ogando," Scioscia said.

With Kendrick in a little funk, Scioscia also felt is was the right time to give him a day off.

In his last 11 games, Kendrick is batting .159 (7-for-44). He also has just one hit in his last 21 at-bats.

"Howie is struggling a little bit the last week and we want to give him a chance to catch his breath," Scioscia said.

The All-Star said he'd like to be out there every game, but still tries to be prepared for the contests he doesn't start.

"I get the same work in and do the same thing every day, so I didn't really think about it," Kendrick said. "I just come in and look at the lineup and see if I'm playing. If I'm not, I just try and be ready to get in there later if they need me."

With left-hander Derek Holland and C.J. Wilson on the hill for Texas on Tuesday and Wednesday, Scioscia said Kendrick's absence in the lineup would last only a day.

"He'll definitely be out there for the next two games after tonight," Scioscia said.

Worth noting

• Jeff Mathis was out of the Angels' lineup Monday against the Rangers as he continues to recuperate from a left hand contusion. Mathis, who suffered the injury Saturday against Toronto, expects to be back in the lineup Tuesday.

"It's feeling better," Mathis said. "It is a little sore, but the swelling has gone down and it isn't as stiff as it was."

• The Angels have the best home record in the Majors since June 15, going 17-5 (.773).

• Torii Hunter has the highest batting average in the Majors since Aug. 1 at a clip of .455 (20-for-44) with two home runs and seven RBIs.

Quinn Roberts is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.