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Skaggs reels off another promising start

MLB.com

ANAHEIM -- Tyler Skaggs is one of the keys to the Angels' future, and he again showed promise as a member of the starting rotation with six shutout innings Friday night against a loaded Rangers lineup.

Skaggs scattered two hits and matched his season-high with eight strikeouts, but he walked four to run up his pitch count and the left-hander settled for a no-decision as the Angels bullpen faltered in a 2-1 loss to the first-place Rangers in the opener of a three-game series at Angel Stadium.

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ANAHEIM -- Tyler Skaggs is one of the keys to the Angels' future, and he again showed promise as a member of the starting rotation with six shutout innings Friday night against a loaded Rangers lineup.

Skaggs scattered two hits and matched his season-high with eight strikeouts, but he walked four to run up his pitch count and the left-hander settled for a no-decision as the Angels bullpen faltered in a 2-1 loss to the first-place Rangers in the opener of a three-game series at Angel Stadium.

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Over his last three starts, Skaggs is 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA and 21 strikeouts over 18 innings. Friday was his ninth start since returning to the Angels at the end of July following August 2014 Tommy John surgery. Skaggs said his mindset down the stretch is to "finish strong."

"I've been out for so long, this is kind of the middle of the season for me," Skaggs said. "I'm just trying to finish these last four starts strong and go in the offseason feeling good and feeling healthy."

The Angels' rotation has been ravaged by season-ending injuries to Garrett Richards, Nick Tropeano, Andrew Heaney, C.J. Wilson and, most recently, Matt Shoemaker.

Video: TEX@LAA: Scioscia on Skaggs outing, Halo's tough loss

Still, things are slowly starting to look up for the Angels. Skaggs is on a roll heading into the offseason, and Richards is within a couple weeks of getting back on a mound and possibly pitching in the Instructional League in October.

There are always question marks surrounding pitchers returning from Tommy John surgery, but Skaggs has given the Angels reason for optimism.

"It's great to see," said shortstop Andrelton Simmons, who tied the game with a two-out triple off Rangers ace Yu Darvish in the seventh. "He shows so much promise, and I'm excited to play behind him going forward."

One of the things Skaggs wants to work on is pitching more efficiently to get deeper into the game. As he racked up eight strikeouts and walked four on Friday, his pitch count stood at 95 after six innings.

The Angels are being cautious with Skaggs, so it was understandable that manager Mike Scioscia went to his bullpen in the seventh.

"I think, at that point in the game, everything considered, that was a good workout for Tyler and it was time to make a change," Scioscia said.

The Rangers scored against Mike Morin to break a scoreless tie three batters into the seventh. After Simmons responded with his RBI triple, longtime Angels nemesis Adrian Beltre took JC Ramirez deep to left in the eighth for the go-ahead run.

Skaggs has not recorded an out past the sixth inning since his season debut on July 27, when he pitched seven shutout innings to beat the Royals. His season-high for pitches is 97. It's a goal of his to increase his length.

"I need to get up to 100 pitches, seven or eight innings," he said. "That's just something that I want, a personal goal that I want to set for myself. That's kind of my goal my rest of the season, is try to go as deep as possible."

Austin Laymance is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Los Angeles Angels, Tyler Skaggs