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Rangers stumble in painful opener vs. Angels

April 9, 2018

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers need more offense early in the game, and they need more consistent starting pitching. The Rangers have been lacking on both sides in their first 12 games, and the early problems have becoming a glaring issue.The Rangers again found themselves trailing early on Monday night, and

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers need more offense early in the game, and they need more consistent starting pitching. The Rangers have been lacking on both sides in their first 12 games, and the early problems have becoming a glaring issue.
The Rangers again found themselves trailing early on Monday night, and they fell for the eighth time through 12 games with an 8-3 loss to the Angels at Globe Life Park.
"No excuses," catcher Robinson Chirinos said. "We need to be better, pitching and hitting. I don't think we have been playing the way we are capable of playing as a group. We need to put this behind us."

The Rangers allowed the Angels to score in the first inning and trailed, 3-1, after four innings. The Rangers are 0-7 when the opponent scores first, and they have been outscored 6-2 in the first inning this season and a combined 30-19 through the first four. They have yet to win a game in which they have trailed.
"Anytime you can develop momentum for yourself is a good thing," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "Being able to get off early and get some runs on the board, being the team that plays out front is always a confidence builder."
Rangers starter Doug Fister began the night by giving up singles to Zack Cozart and Michael Trout. He struck out Justin Upton and Jose Pujols, but Kole Calhoun singled through the Rangers' right-side shift between shortstop Elvis Andrus and Rougned Odor to put the Angels ahead.

Fister set the side down in order in the second and third, but Pujols led off the fourth with a line-drive home run down the left-field line. Singles by Andrelton Simmons and Luis Valbuena, a walk to Martin Maldonado and Ryan Schimpf's groundout made it 3-0 for the Angels. Rangers starters are now 4-7 with a 4.72 ERA after 12 games.
"We are trying to put up zeros early," Fister said. "Unfortunately giving up the run in the first inning puts us in a hole and sets a negative tone. That's on me. I've got to be better, set the tone early and let our boys have a chance to score first."

The Rangers couldn't catch up despite eight hits and six walks issued by six Angels pitchers. The Rangers finished the night 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position. Joey Gallo's RBI single drove in one run and he brought in another with a groundout. Andrus' ninth-inning home run accounted for the final run.
The Rangers have had one or no hits with runners in scoring position in six of their first 12 games. They are 0-6 in those games.
"When you create opportunities for yourself, that's one part of it," Banister said. "The other part is the ability to get those runners in. I've got to believe as we create those opportunities, there are good hitters within that lineup who are going to come through. Maybe we need to take a step back, regroup and take those at-bats the way we need to. I feel confident these guys are going to drive those runs in."

Alvarez rescues Richards: Angels starter Garrett Richards ran into trouble in the fifth when he walked three of the first four batters, leaving the bases loaded and one out. The Rangers had left-handed sluggers Nomar Mazara and Gallo coming up, so Angels manager Mike Scioscia brought in Jose Alvarez. The Angels' left-handed reliever got Mazara on a pop to short and Gallo on a fly to center to end the threat.
"I wanted to give him a huge hug afterwards," Richards said. "It was huge."

Maldonado avoids tag: Scioscia got a reversal on a call in the sixth when Maldonado was called out at home plate, trying to score from first on Chris Young's double to left. The replay showed Maldonado deftly avoiding Chirinos' tag on the slide into home, and the call was reversed, giving the Angels a 5-1 lead.
"I didn't know whether I wanted to slide headfirst or feet-first," Maldonado said. "I didn't know which one I was going to do, but it worked out."

The Rangers lost Odor in the bottom of the first inning, when he strained his left hamstring scrambling back to first base on a flyout. More >>
"Nobody in this clubhouse wants to lose some games. I think everybody is trying to do too much right now. You have to go back to the basics. Pitch by pitch, inning by inning, and with the talent we have here, we're going to have good at-bats when people are on base, and win some games. But right now, we're just trying to do too much." -- Chirinos, on the Rangers' early troubles
Jurickson Profar drew a pair of walks after entering the game for Odor. Profar leads the Rangers with six walks even though he has just 20 plate appearances.
The Angels, leading 2-0, had the bases loaded with one out in the fourth when Schimpf hit a slow chopper to third baseman Adrian Beltre. His throw to first pulled Gallo off the bag and he had to go for the tag on Schimpf. First-base umpire Todd Tichenor ruled Schimpf safe, but the Rangers challenged and got the call reversed. A run still scored to give the Angels a 3-0 lead.

Beltre led off the fourth inning with a single for the 3,060th hit of his career. That ties Craig Biggio for 23rd all-time. Up next is Cap Anson in 22nd place with 3,081 hits.

Left-hander Martin Perez starts Tuesday at 7:05 p.m. CT at Globe Life Park in the second game of this three-game series. He is 4-4 with a 3.27 ERA in 11 career starts and one relief appearance against the Angels. Perez has held Trout to six hits in 27 at-bats. That's a .222 batting average that is Trout's third lowest against a left-hander with a minimum of 20 plate appearances. Lefty Tyler Skaggs will make the start for the Angels. He needed 103 pitches to get through 4 2/3 innings in his last outing, allowing two runs on five hits while walking two and striking out five.
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T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.