ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -- The Los Angeles Angels don't know who
they will face in the first round of the playoffs. On Friday night,
they looked ready for anybody.
John Lackey allowed three hits over five scoreless innings in
his final playoff tuneup and Garret Anderson hit a three-run homer
as the AL West champion Angels beat the Texas Rangers 7-1.
"Every team in the playoffs is a good team," manager Mike
Scioscia said. "It'll come down to how you execute down to the
Lackey (14-5), who was sharp despite pitching on three days'
rest, will start the Angels' second playoff game next week against
an opponent still to be determined. Bartolo Colon draws the Game 1
assignment for Los Angeles.
Lackey improved to 9-2 on the road, struck out four and walked
one to help the Angels to their 12th victory in 14 games. Lackey
finished with a career-high 199 strikeouts.
"John looks ready to go," Scioscia said. "He's one of the top
pitchers in our league. He had quite a year."
Since the All-Star break, Lackey is 8-1 with a 2.57 ERA in 15
Anderson snapped a 1-for-24 slump with his 16th homer. He's been
bothered by knee and back problems and is currently serving as the
designated hitter. The Angels are unsure whether Anderson will be
available to play left field in the playoffs, but his bat will be
in the lineup.
"In the playoffs, you're going to see good pitching so it's
going to take everybody," Angels second baseman Adam Kennedy said.
"But having Garret swing the bat like that will be big for us."
Kelvim Escobar went two scoreless innings for the Angels and
Esteban Yan allowed Kevin Mench's sacrifice fly in the ninth.
Texas' Michael Young, the AL batting leader at .332, went
0-for-4 to end his career-high 25-game hitting streak. Young's
streak is the second-longest in club history behind Gabe Kapler's
28-game run in 2000.
"It really wasn't that big of a deal," Young said. "Granted,
I want to get hits every game but not to keep a streak alive. I
want to help us win."
The Rangers remained at a club-record 259 homers, five short of
tying the major league mark set by the Seattle Mariners in 1997.
R.A. Dickey (1-2) allowed five runs and five hits in 4 2-3
innings in his fourth major league start as a knuckleballer. He
walked five and struck out two.
Dickey's knuckler was missing the strike zone in the first
inning, as he walked three of the first four batters. The Angels
got the game's first run on Darin Erstad's fielder's choice
grounder, and Bengie Molina followed with an RBI single.
"Obviously with a pitch like the knuckleball, you have to throw
it in the strike zone to have guys respect it and I had a tough
time doing it," Dickey said. "I had a really good knuckleball but
I couldn't control it and that's part of the learning curve."
Anderson's homer off Dickey extended the Angels' lead to 5-0.
In the seventh, Casey Kotchman's RBI double and Josh Paul's
run-scoring single off Edison Volquez made it 7-0.
Lackey left right after the game for a family wedding on
Saturday in his hometown of Abilene, Texas. ... The Angels lead the
season series 13-4. ... Pitching coach Orel Hershiser rejoined the
Rangers after missing a three-game series in Seattle to attend his
father-in-law's funeral in San Antonio. ... Alfonso Soriano had two
stolen bases in the fourth, giving him 30 for the season. Soriano
became the first Ranger with 30 homers and 30 steals. He has only
been caught stealing twice this season. ... Vladimir Guerrero has
hit safely in all 35 career games against Texas, matching the
longest streak against one team in major league history. Ken
Griffey Jr. hit in 35 straight games against Cleveland from