Josh Hamilton's season has not gone according to plan, but with Albert Pujols on the disabled list, the Angels now need Hamilton more than ever.
The 2010 American League MVP went 0-for-5 on Sunday, is 3-for-26 in his past six games and has seen his average dip to .220, but what better time to pick up the slack than during a series against his former team?
"We're going to miss him," Hamilton said of Pujols. "It's a big hole to fill and we can't fill it. All you can do is keep battling, send guys out there and have guys pick up the slack as best as they can because you can't replace Albert. It's definitely frustrating."
While eyes will certainly be on Hamilton, he is not the only member of the Angels' lineup who needs to produce Monday when the club begins the series seven games under .500 and 13 games out of first place.
"Everybody here is good," Angels shortstop Erick Aybar said. "We just have to keep fighting, try to stay alive. Albert is very important, but we have to keep trying to play good baseball."
And Rangers manager Ron Washington expects the Angels to do so.
"They're a solid group and they continue to fight," Washington said. "I don't think they're going to catch Oakland, but I don't think anything is going to change in our games. They're going to be hard-fought, that's for sure."
The first of the three games will feature a strong pitching matchup as the Angels will send ace Jered Weaver to the mound and the Rangers will counter with newly acquired Matt Garza.
Weaver has thrown 14 2/3 scoreless innings since the All-Star break and is 4-1 with a 1.32 ERA in his last six starts.
Garza has won his past six starts and allowed just one unearned run in 7 1/3 innings during his Rangers debut against the Yankees.
Angels: Pujols placed on disabled list
If the Angels are to make a second-half run, they will have to do it without No. 3 hitter Pujols, who landed on the 15-day disabled list Sunday.
The slugger had been playing with plantar fasciitis all season, but he further aggravated it on Friday night and the rest of his season is now in jeopardy.
"This is a big blow to our team right now," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "We have to move forward and find a way to generate offense that will support the good pitching that we need. It's naturally something you would hope could have made it through to the offseason, but it didn't happen and you just have to move on."
Pujols started 65 of his 99 games at designated hitter and hit .258 with 17 home runs and 64 RBIs.
Rangers: Trading Nathan a possibility
As the Rangers decide how to bolster their playoff chances, Joe Nathan's name has been a topic of discussion
While the Rangers may listen to offers for Nathan, who has 32 saves and a 1.73 ERA this season, the closer is not focused on it.
"I've never worried about this stuff and I'm not going to start now," Nathan said. "I'm going to play and help this team win. My thought process is battling with this team and helping us get to the postseason again. Obviously I've enjoyed myself here and enjoy my teammates. I love everything about this organization and the way they treat their players. I'm assuming I'll be here the rest of the year."
• Garza is 0-1 with a 5.83 ERA in five career starts against the Angels.
• Weaver is 13-8 with a 3.75 ERA in 31 career starts against the Rangers.
• Monday will mark Weaver's first start against the Rangers since he fractured his left elbow on April 7 in Arlington.
William Boor is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.