Colon can't contain Angels in opening shutout
ANAHEIM -- Almost from the beginning, it was pretty evident Rangers starter Bartolo Colon did not have his best stuff on Friday night.
The loud, sharp sound of the ball coming off the bat was the first indication. Then there were the exit velocities being registered on the Angels' balls in play. Finally, there was Colon's final line: six runs on eight hits and a walk through three innings.
He also somehow struck out four, but he still left with the Rangers trailing by six runs and the Angels went on to a 6-0 victory in the opener of a three-game series at Angel Stadium. Colon was trying for his 243rd career win, tying for the most ever by a pitcher from the Dominican Republic. But Juan Marichal's record is safe for another turn in the Rangers' rotation.
"Looked like the command was not as sharp as we have seen in the past," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "He wasn't able to find the range with all his pitches. There were some hard contact. He couldn't get the ball down in the strike zone when he wanted to. He missed pitches out over the zone and they didn't miss. Tough night for Bart. We just put it in the memory bank, throw it away and move on."
Colon faced 18 batters and 13 put the ball in play. Eight of them did so with an exit velocity of 100 mph or greater. Three others were 95-plus mph, also falling under the Statcast™ definition of being "hard-hit."
Colon's hard-hit rate of 84.6 percent of balls in play (11-for-13) was the second highest by a pitcher with a minimum of 10 batted balls this season. The only higher was by Marco Gonzales of the Mariners, who had 90 percent against the Royals on April 9.
"I felt good, but they were ready for me," Colon said. "My pitches tonight, I thought they were good pitches. The mound to me, I felt a little higher on the mound and I wasn't very comfortable."
Colon's lowest rate was 22.7 percent of 22 batted balls on May 26 against the Royals. He had a 35.3-percent rate on April 15 when he took a perfect game into the eighth inning against the Astros.
"Early in the game there were some close pitches that he wasn't able to get and that put him in a negative pitcher's count," Banister said. "There was a lot of movement on the fastball back over the middle of the plate and elevated. He couldn't get it in the soft contact zone and they didn't miss it."
Jose Pujols hit a two-run home run in the first to put the Angels on the board right away. Ian Kinsler had a two-run home run in the second to make it 4-0. In the third, Justin Upton and Pujols led off the inning with a pair of singles that were the two hardest-hit balls off Colon all night.
Upton's line drive was at 109.3 mph, which just overpowered second baseman Rougned Odor. Pujols' line drive to left was clocked at 111 mph. A walk to Shohei Ohtani loaded the bases, and Andrelton Simmons' single scored Upton, while Pujols scored on a groundout by Martin Maldonado.
"I faced him a lot when he was with the Mets, and today he wasn't at his best, but he's a special guy," Simmons said. "I have a lot of admiration for him, how long he's been doing it and how well he does it. He didn't have his best stuff today, but I got a lot of respect for him."
MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Jesse Chavez saved the rest of the bullpen by throwing five scoreless innings. It's only the fifth time in the past 20 years that a Rangers reliever has pitched at least five scoreless innings in an outing. The Angels loaded the bases with two outs in the sixth, but Chavez got Pujols to ground out to end the inning.
"What he did was exceptional," Banister said. "Tremendous job by him to save the bullpen."
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
The game ended on Odor trying to break up a double play at second base and drawing the wrath of Angels shortstop Simmons, who thought the slide was too high. The two discussed the matter, and both teams came onto the field, but everything cooled off quickly and everybody went to their clubhouses.
"Simmons took offense to the slide," Banister said. "He was animated about the slide. I don't know if Rougned was trying to defuse it but Rougned wasn't animated. We all went out there to make sure those guys didn't get in a situation that was detrimental to both of them."
HE SAID IT
"I was just trying to tell him, 'You forgot to say hello to your family for me.' He's like, 'No, I didn't forget, I told them.' I was like, 'No, they told me you didn't tell them.' So he wasn't very happy about it. It's OK." -- Simmons, on the play at the end of the game
Left-hander Cole Hamels will try to bounce back from his last start when he pitches against the Angels at 8:27 p.m. CT Saturday in Anaheim. Hamels allowed five runs in 6 1/3 innings in a 5-3 loss to the Royals on Sunday. He was 2-1 with a 2.08 ERA and a 1.02 WHIP in his five previous starts. Since being acquired by the Rangers in 2015, he is 4-1 with a 2.70 ERA in nine starts against the Angels. Right-hander Garrett Richards will pitch for the Angels and the start time has been pushed back 20 minutes due to pregame ceremonies honoring Angels first baseman Albert Pujols.