The Rangers have slumped early in the final month of the regular season. They've lost five of their first six games in September and dropped three straight series. On Sunday, the Angels have a chance to sweep their American League West rivals at Angel Stadium.
Texas finished 15-13 last September, losing the AL West title to the A's in the final game of the regular season. The Rangers are now 1 1/2 games behind Oakland for first place, as they've lost ground with both games in Anaheim. Texas still holds a three-game lead for the first Wild Card spot over the Rays, who lead the Orioles and Indians by another game.
"There's not a whole lot we haven't experienced other than winning it all -- which is the ultimate goal," Rangers first baseman Mitch Moreland said. "We've been everywhere else over the last few years, so you just take that in and tell yourself, 'I've been here before. I've done this before and it's not different.'
"There's a lot of guys on this team that have the experience and have been a part of it. We've got a couple guys that have been all the way too with Lance [Berkman] and A.J. [Pierzynski]. They both accomplished the ultimate goal in Major League Baseball, so we can look to those guys."
Nick Tepesch will make his first start since he was placed on the disabled list with a sore right elbow on July 6. The right-hander threw 3 1/3 scoreless innings Monday against the A's in his only outing since the DL stint. The rookie is 4-6 with a 4.67 ERA this season. This will be Tepesch's first career start against the Angels.
"[He] threw the ball well, and just wanted to get him another chance," Rangers manager Ron Washington said on Friday. "We liked what we saw."
The Angels will counter with Jason Vargas, who is 8-6 with a 3.80 ERA this season. The southpaw has a 2.84 ERA in two starts this season against the Rangers, but he lasted just four innings in his last start Tuesday against the Rays. He allowed five runs on five hits after throwing seven scoreless innings against Tampa Bay on Aug. 29.
Angels: Bourjos weighing wrist surgery
• Center fielder Peter Bourjos said Saturday he is likely to undergo season-ending wrist surgery. He has battled a fractured right wrist since June and hoped to overcome the pain without the need of surgical procedure. Bourjos said the injury hasn't improved, but it hasn't worsened either.
Rangers: Harrison to undergo shoulder surgery
• Left-hander Matt Harrison will have right shoulder surgery Monday for thoracic outlet syndrome. It means a rib has disrupted the blood flow or a nerve and caused an unusual feeling in Harrison's arm and hand. He left his final rehab start on Aug. 9 with numbness in his throwing hand. Harrison has already had two surgeries on his back this season.
• The Angels are 10-9 when Vargas starts.
• The Rangers are 10-4 overall against the Angels this season.
Master Tesfatsion is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.