ANAHEIM - The Rangers scored five runs in the first three innings and right-hander A.J. Griffin, starting his first Major League game in more than 30 months, made sure it was enough, leading his team to a 7-3 victory over the Angels on Friday night at Angel Stadium.Griffin, out of
ANAHEIM - The Rangers scored five runs in the first three innings and right-hander A.J. Griffin, starting his first Major League game in more than 30 months, made sure it was enough, leading his team to a 7-3 victory over the Angels on Friday night at Angel Stadium.
Griffin, out of baseball the last two years because of Tommy John surgery and an ensuing right shoulder injury, contributed a quality start in his return to the mound, giving up three runs on six hits and two walks in six innings.
"What a plus for him after two years to take the ball on a Major League mound and pitch like that," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said.
"He looked a lot like he did when we saw him with the A's," Angels manager Mike Scioscia added. "He throws strikes, he makes pitches in good zones, he changes speeds."
• Well worth the wait: Griffin wins in return
Griffin's teammates gave him plenty of breathing room.
The Rangers started the game with three first-inning runs off Angels starter Matt Shoemaker, getting back-to-back RBI singles by Prince Fielder and Adrian Beltre, then a run-scoring double from Mitch Moreland. In the third, Rougned Odor hit a two-run shot just over the scoreboard in right-center field.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Barnette saves eighth: The Rangers called upon rookie right-hander Tony Barnette for his biggest moment yet. Barnette, with the Rangers leading, 7-3, entered the game in the eighth inning with the bases loaded and two outs to face Carlos Perez. The count went full before Barnette got Perez on a fly to center to end the inning. More >
Shoe's on the other foot: Shoemaker's rough spring carried over into his season debut, which began with the first five batters reaching base and ended after he recorded only nine outs. Shoemaker was charged with six runs on seven hits and three walks in three-plus innings. He yielded three runs in the first, then served up a two-run homer to Odor in the third. The 29-year-old right-hander gave up nine home runs in 25 innings during Spring Training.
"Today's extremely frustrating. They had some good hits, but there was a lot of weak contact," Shoemaker said. "That's what you're looking for as a pitcher. And a lot of these days, those balls will go right at guys. Those are the days you put up seven shutout innings. If you look at it that way, mentally, it's a lot more easy going into next start. And you have to do it that way."
Beltre, Desmond make sterling catches: Rangers third baseman Beltre made another superb defensive play. Ji-Man Choi led off the fourth with a little pop down the left-field line. Beltre raced back and made an over-the-head catch, holding onto the ball as he tumbled to the ground. Left fielder Ian Desmond also had a nice running catch toward the left-field corner on Yunel Escobar's drive in the seventh.
"We put a premium on defense, and it showed up tonight," Banister said. "All in all, a tremendous night defensively."
Coming up empty: The Angels had their fair share of hard-hit balls against Griffin, but didn't have much to show for it. Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and Andrelton Simmons each hit long drives to center field that didn't carry quite far enough. The Angels got RBIs from Perez (groundout), Kole Calhoun (single) and Cliff Pennington (double), but also went 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position.
"That was amazing. I used to hate him in Oakland, but now I'm glad he is here." -- Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus on Griffin
"It's the heartbeat of your club. Right now, we're trying to get some guys to get into the flow of the season, get into their games. We had a couple of guys that just didn't get off the way we hoped they would." -- Scioscia, when asked whether he's worried about the Angels' rotation
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Angels have dropped three out of four to begin a season for the fifth time in the last seven years, having also done that in 2014, '13, '11 and '10. This year, the Angels have led in only two of the 36 innings in which they've played.
Griffin is 19-0 in his career when receiving four or more runs of support.
Angels left fielder Daniel Nava suffered a laceration, essentially a deep cut, in his left index finger in the third inning, prompting an early exit. Nava was stepped on by Rangers second baseman Odor on a pickoff play, then started bleeding upon sliding safely into third base, prompting attention from the Angels' medical staff and a departure the next half-inning. More >
The Angels converted their first challenge of the season, overturning a call that ruled Andrus safe on an attempted steal of second base with two outs in the fifth inning. Replay showed second baseman Pennington's tag hitting Andrus' arm just before he reached the bag with a headfirst slide. The entire Angels defense was steps away from the dugout before umpires even took off their headsets.
Rangers:Cole Hamels, who picked up a win on Opening Day, pitches against the Angels at 8:05 p.m. CT on Saturday. This will be the left-hander's first career start at Angel Stadium and his third against the Angels.
Angels:Garrett Richards will oppose the Rangers' ace at 6:05 p.m. PT Saturday in search of his first win of the season. The hard-throwing right-hander showed electric stuff against the Cubs on Opening Day, but he needed 97 pitches to complete five innings, giving up three runs.
Watch every out-of-market regular season game live on MLB.TV.
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez and listen to his podcast. T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.