Leading off: Angels and Rangers set for weekend series with AL West lead on the line

Game of the day: Los Angeles Angels at Texas, 8:05 p.m. The number of meaningful playoff races continues to dwindle, but the American League West remains close. The division’s two contenders open this three-game series Friday with Texas two games ahead, as Los Angeles has won six straight games to stay close. Angels starter Dan Haren (13-6) sports a 2.98 ERA and a 0.98 WHIP, and Los Angeles has won both of the right-hander’s starts this season against Texas. Left-hander Derek Holland (11-5) is the scheduled starter for the Rangers. After pitching scoreless outings in four of his six July starts, Holland has an ugly 6.41 ERA through four starts in August.

Other game to watch: Washington at Cincinnati, 7:10 p.m. Both the Nationals and Reds have essentially been out of the playoff conversation for weeks, but the pitching matchup in this game features an intriguing pair of former stars trying to return to prominence. Washington right-hander Chien-Ming Wang (2-2) won 19 games for the Yankees in both 2006 and 2007 before his career was derailed by injuries in 2008. He won one game in 2009 and didn’t pitch in the big leagues again until the Nats recalled him in July. Reds left-hander Dontrelle Willis (0-3) was a 22-game winner for Florida in 2005, but injuries and ineffectiveness also cost him several years of his prime. Neither pitcher has regained his old form, but both are fascinating to watch.

Games you should have seen:

New York Yankees 22, Oakland 9. The Yankees hit a major-league record three grand slams Thursday and turned an early 7-1 deficit into a comical 13-run rout. Robinson Cano, Russell Martin and Curtis Granderson each hit salamis as New York scored four runs in the fifth inning, four runs in the sixth, six runs in the seventh and six runs in the eighth. Oakland had led 7-1 in the third inning after they chased Yankees starter Phil Hughes from the game after 2 2/3 innings. New York remains one game behind Boston in the AL East.

Boston 6, Texas 0. The Red Sox hit four home runs and allowed only three hits in an impressive all-around win against the Rangers. Boston homered in each of the first four innings against Texas starter Alexi Ogando, as Adrian Gonzalez went deep twice and David Ortiz and Jarrod Saltalamacchia also homered. Red Sox left-hander Andrew Miller pitched 6 1/3 scoreless innings, allowing only three hits in his best outing of the season.

Stat you should know: 334. Home runs hit by Jim Thome in 12 seasons playing for Cleveland from 1991 to 2002. Minnesota traded Thome back to the Indians on Thursday for a player to be named later.

Star of the night: While contributing to the Yankees’ historic offensive performance, New York catcher Russell Martin went 5 for 5 with two home runs, a double, six RBI and three runs scored against the A’s.

Chatter: “Sooner or later, the baseball gods kind of let you up for air.” – Orioles Manager Buck Showalter, after Baltimore beat Minnesota, 6-1, on Thursday to earn its fourth consecutive win. The Orioles had gone 17-46 between the end of their previous four-game winning streak on June 10 and the beginning of their current streak on Monday.

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