Sunday, June 3, 2012
3 Up, 3 Down: Rangers 7, Angels 3
By Mark Saxon
ANAHEIM -- The Texas Rangers fought back to avoid the sweep, beating the Angels 7-3 at Angel Stadium Sunday afternoon to pad their AL West lead to 4 1/2 games.
The big blow, literally, was Nelson Cruz's two-run home run in the seventh inning that reached the Monster Energy sign, roughly 484 feet from home plate. It was the longest home run in the majors this year, according to ESPN's Home Run Tracker.
Scrappiness. The Angels didn't have much of a day at the plate and the middle of their bullpen, as usual, offered scant relief. But the team did fight and stay in the game despite all that. After going in a 2-0 hole, the Angels scored. After going down 3-1, they scored again. When it was 5-2, they scrounged for a run and put the tying run at second. Their execution was flat, but not their effort.
Still going. Mike Trout wasn't having the most productive day when he came up with two on and two outs in the seventh innning. But that at-bat showed the maturity the Angels love from their 20-year-old leadoff hitter. Trout fell behind hard thrower Alexi Ogando before taking some borderline pitches and then putting a compact swing on one and sending it up the middle for an RBI single. Trout also singled to right off Texas closer Joe Nathan.
Finally producing. The latter third of the Angels order had been where rallies went to die and where pitchers went to catch their breath. But it was the guys struggling to stay above the Mendoza line who sparked what little offense the Angels generated. Erick Aybar, stuck in a miserable funk all year, drove a double into the left-field corner to bring home the first run and journeyman backup catcher John Hester hit a solo home run.
Big boys. It was the kind of situation for which you sign an Albert Pujols. Down by two in the seventh inning, the Angels had the bases loaded. But Ogando''s final two pitches to Pujols were clocked at 99 and 100 mph and Pujols ended the inning with a broken-bat pop-up to left. It wasn't a great day for the Angels big boppers. Pujols and Mark Trumbo combined to go 1-for-6 and the lone hit was a Trumbo pop-up lost in the sun.
Hit Hunter. Torii Hunter was in a deep slump before he went on the restricted list last month. Missing two weeks didn't seem to cure what was ailing him. Hunter is now in a 3-for-46 (.065) slump over the last month. His at-bats were costly Sunday. He struck out twice and then swung at Matt Harrison's first pitch with two runners in scoring position and hit a lazy fly ball to end the sixth inning.
Intensive labor. Dan Haren looked like his old self in the previous two starts, mowing down hitters and getting deep into games. But it looked like he had mediocre stuff Sunday and the Rangers lineup has a way of grinding that can make it difficult for a pitcher to catch his breath. Haren did his best to minimize damage, but long innings drove up his pitch count and drove him from the game after five innings.