ARLINGTON, Texas -- It wasn't the solo home runs to Mike Trout and Chris Iannetta in the first three innings that bothered Rangers starter Ryan Dempster. It was an inability to make crucial pitches with two outs and extending the Angels' advantage.
Mark Trumbo hit two doubles -- both with two outs -- to score runs. And both were on sliders that Dempster said were not in the right location.
"I've got to make better pitches with two outs, especially when I have an advantage righty on righty, and Trumbo hit two doubles to score runs," Dempster said. "That was the difference in the ballgame, really. I gave up two home runs last game and I won. Solo home runs don't beat you. It's the runs when you don't make pitches with two outs."
Dempster said he doens't know why he struggles so much against the Angels, but added he's "trying to figure that out."
Friday was actually his best start against them in three tries. He gave up four runs on seven hits with four walks and seven strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings. Dempster was in position for a quality start pitching to Trumbo in the sixth. But the double gave the Angels their fourth run, and when Dempster walked Iannetta he was lifted in favor of Robbie Ross.
Dempster is now 0-2 with an 11.20 ERA in three starts against the Angels. The 5 2/3 innings on Friday were the most he's thrown against the Angels. He lasted just 3 1/3 innings in his last start (and 4 2/3 innings before that).
But since the trade to Texas, Dempster's splits against contenders and non-contenders are telling. He has an 8.46 ERA in five starts against contending teams, including three vs. Los Angeles, one against the Yankees and the other at home against Baltimore. He's 1-3 in those starts. In the six other starts for Texas -- against Boston, Minnesota, Seattle, Kansas City and Cleveland (twice) -- he's sporting a 2.43 ERA. That's a split worth noting with the playoffs around the corner.
Dempster will likely get one more shot at a contending team. He's slated to pitch in the regular-season finale in Oakland. The Rangers certainly hope to have the division clinched by then, but it could be a critical game for the A's.
While Dempster has had his issues against those top teams, he did perform well against one possible Ranger playoff opponent: Baltimore. Dempster gave up one run in eight innings in a win in Arlington on Aug. 20.
Dempster said he knew he was going to be in a battle with Jered Weaver on the mound. Weaver got his 20th win of the season and is in contention for the Cy Young Award.
"You can't make a lot of mistakes," Dempster said. "We've done a good job here of hitting against him, I just wasn't able to make some pitches and get some outs with two outs. If I do that, it's a whole different ballgame and it's 2 to 1 instead of 4 to 1. I didn't make a pitch and got us behind."