The Angles hold On to Second Place
BY: Dic Humphrey
Los Angeles ended a torturous seven game week by taking two of three from Texas to cut the Ranger lead in the West to five games, six in the loss column. The Angels took the rubber game Sunday night to win the series. L. A. had extra motivation to win Sunday night, as a loss would have actually moved them down to third place. The hard charging Oakland A’s are the hottest team in baseball. After sweeping a four game set against the Yankees this weekend, they are 14-2 for the month of July and trail L. A. by just one-half game.
Dan Haren came off the disabled list to start Sunday’s game for the Angels. He gave up a mammoth home run to Nelson Cruz with a runner aboard to account for the scoreboard damage he would allow on the evening. He has not been the top of the rotation starter this season, but the Angels are hoping a stint on the disabled list will turn his season around. The first start indicator is good. He completed six innings of three hit ball to win his seventh game of the year against eight losses.
Matt Harrison battled through six innings, departing after Bobby Wilson leading off the seventh banged his first home run of the year for the sixth Angels’ run. Harrison was touched for eight hits, striking out four and walking two. His record is now 12-4, 3.02.
Mike Adams gave up a run to the Angels in relief, while the Rangers scratched out single runs in the eighth and ninth innings to make the final score 7-4.
In Friday night’s series opener, Derek Holland didn’t have it and Jered Weaver did. Holland pitched into the seventh inning, but gave up six runs on nine hits. There were simply too many pitches placed in hittable areas of the strike zone. A telling sign was that he struck out no one. The Angels broke the game open in the fourth inning. Tied at one apiece, the Angels struck for three runs on two doubles and two singles. Holland said afterwards that his sinker didn’t sink, and his pitches in general did not have much movement.
Weaver gave up a first inning home run to Elvis Andrus. That was the only Texas scored on the evening. Weaver lasted seven innings. Texas had a super opportunity to get control of the game in the third inning when Mike Napoli singled and Craig Gentry doubled to open the inning. From there, Kinsler popped up; and after a walk to Andrus, Josh Hamilton grounded into a double play to end the inning without a score. The Rangers never again mounted a serious threat.
Weaver left after throwing 116 pitches. He struck out four, walked one and scattered six hits over the seven innings. Kevin Jepson and Jason Isringhausen shut down the Rangers over the final two innings. 6-1 was the final score.
On paper, Saturday’s game looked to be the best opportunity for the Rangers to win. Ervin Santana was the Angels’ starting pitcher. At 4-9, 5.60, he has not been the solid starter that he has been in the past, and Texas wasted little time getting a stranglehold on this game. After scratching out a run in the first, Texas came back with the big bang offense to chase Santana, who retired just five batters before departing. The much maligned catching corps – Mike Napoli and Yorvit Torrealba – led off the second inning with solo home runs. Craig Gentry and Ian Kinsler followed with doubles to plate a third run in the inning and the Rangers’ fourth of the game. Adrian Beltre next polished off Santana with the third home run of the inning, his 18th of the year.
David Carpenter replaced Santana and got out of the second. However, Napoli took him yard in the third, a solo shot that ran the Ranger run total to seven, which made Saturday’s game the highest scoring game of the month. Ian Kinsler later hit his 11th home run of the year with a runner aboard to cap the Rangers’ scoring on the day. 9-2 was the final. It was the third game this season in which the Rangers have hit five home runs.
Yu Darvish was the beneficiary of the run support. He won his 11th game, going seven innings. He gave up two runs on three hits, struck out 11 and walked four. It was his sixth start to tally a double digit strikeout total.
Saturday’s win was extremely important. Realistically, an Angels’ sweep is the only way the Rangers get hurt in this series. The win assured there would be no Angels sweep this weekend.
Despite Saturday’s offensive explosion, the Rangers offense still looks anemic. They came into the series with 33 runs scored in July, the fewest of any team in the Majors. That total is now 46, an average of 3.1 runs per game. They have just twice in 15 games scored more than four runs. Josh Hamilton is the biggest hole in the lineup at this point. His batting average has dropped precipitously. It was over .400 well into May, but has now dropped to .293. For July, he is hitting .164 with 16 strikeouts. That total includes three strikeouts Sunday, including the final out of the game as the tying run.
Texas returns home to host the Red Sox in three games Monday Tuesday and Wednesday. It is the only appearance for Boston this season in Arlington. The pitching rotation was thrown into mayhem again, as Roy Oswalt has back issues, and returned to Texas before Sunday’s game for further examination. He’s been scratched from Monday’s scheduled start, which will now be taken by Scott Feldman. Colby Lewis is still “officially” listed as Tuesday’s starter, but he is having further issues with the forearm injury that landed him on the disabled list earlier. He’s doubtful. Tuesday’s game will likely be started by Martin Perez. The pitching matchups for the series are:
Monday Scott Feldman (2-6, 5.89) vs. Felix Doubront (10-4, 4.24)
Tuesday Colby Lewis (6-6, 3.43) vs. Clay Buchholz (8-3, 5.19)
Wednesday Derek Holland (6-5, 4.84) vs. Josh Beckett (6-8, 4.53)
- Yorvit Torrealba did not return in time for Friday’s game. He had been on paternity leave for the birth of his daughter last Tuesday in Miami. A player is eligible to remain on the paternity list for 72 hours. Since he was placed on the paternity list last Tuesday, he had to be transferred to the restricted list on Friday before being activated for Saturday’s game. Back-up catcher Luis Martinez was sent to AAA Round Rock to make room on the roster for Torrealba, whose wife had a baby girl.
- Texas finished the road trip with a 4-4 record, and now has a 17-17 record against their West Division foes. They went 1-1-1 for the three series on this trip, and now have won nine of the last 12 series. Overall, the Rangers are 19-10-2 in series wins this season.