Red-hot Angels complete four-game sweep of Rangers

Published: Sunday, Jul. 13, 2014 - 1:00 am

The home of the Texas Rangers hasn't been very hospitable toward the Los Angeles Angels, and not just because of the stifling heat and humidity that can be suffocating at times. The Angels lost their last eight games here in 2013, four in walk-off fashion, three on dagger-like, game-winning home runs.

But the Rangers seemed to put out a welcome (door) mat for the Angels at Globe Life Park on Thursday. Not only was Texas decimated by injuries and playing the worst baseball in the major leagues, but also its ace, Yu Darvish, who is 7-2 with a 4.00 earned-run average against the Angels, would not pitch in the four-game series.

To the surprise of no one, the Angels, baseball's hottest team, steamrolled the Rangers, completing their first four-game sweep of Texas with a 10-7 victory on a scorching 99-degree Sunday afternoon.

Mike Trout drove in four runs with a pair of doubles, and Albert Pujols continued his four-week surge with three hits and an RBI, as the Angels (57-37) won for the 19th time in 23 games and moved 20 games over .500 at the All-Star break for the first time in club history.

With an explosive offense, solid starting pitching and a much-improved bullpen, the Angels have baseball's second-best record and are 11/2 games behind Oakland in the American League West. Since June 6, they're a major league-best 26-9. The Rangers have lost 22 of 25 and have baseball's worst record (38-57).

"Those guys scored seven runs on us and could have scored more," said Angels Manager Mike Scioscia, dismissing any suggestion that the Angels caught the Rangers at a good time. "You have to play well to shut them down, and I thought we did a good job of doing that."

They did by overcoming not only the Rangers but conditions that pitcher Tyler Skaggs described as "miserable, almost unbearable." The left-hander battled his way through five innings, giving up six runs and seven hits, hardly a gem but enough to earn his first win since May 20.

The game was stopped for a few minutes in the eighth inning while Angels medical personnel tended to a photographer who passed out because of dehydration in a camera well next to the Angels dugout.

"My cleats almost melted on the mound," Skaggs said. "It was like playing in an oven or running a blow-dryer on your face. But we persevered and won the game, and that's all that matters."

The Angels' bats were as hot as the weather here. They scored 33 runs in the four games, batting .345 (51 for 148) overall and .395 (17 for 43) with runners in scoring position. Trout, Pujols and Josh Hamilton combined to hit .442 (23 for 52) with seven doubles, 14 runs and 16 runs batted in.

"That's a very relentless lineup," said Texas manager Ron Washington. "You make a mistake, and they make you pay for it."

The Angels will resume play Friday without a key reserve, outfielder Collin Cowgill, who suffered a broken nose and a small fracture in his right thumb when he was hit in the face by a high-and-tight Matt West fastball while squaring to bunt in the eighth inning Saturday night.

Cowgill will undergo surgery on his nose and be sidelined for four to five weeks, Scioscia said. He was placed on the 15-day disabled list, and the Angels called up utility man Grant Green from triple A on Sunday.

Cowgill, who is hitting .277 with five homers, 16 RBIs and 28 runs in 69 games, suffered a deep gash on the bridge of his nose and was bleeding profusely as he headed toward the dugout. He remained conscious and alert while being transported to a hospital for tests.

"As bad as it was, thank God he didn't get hit in the eye or the teeth," Scioscia said. "It's obviously a tough break, and it's a terrible injury, but the reality is, it could have been worse."

ANGELS 10, RANGERS 7

KEY MOMENT: The Rangers scored three runs in the third inning to tie the score, 4-4, but Kole Calhoun blooped a one-out double to left field in the fourth, and Mike Trout, who will make his second straight All-Star game start Tuesday night, followed with a laser of a run-scoring double to left-center to give the Angels a lead they would not relinquish. The Angels scored in seven of nine innings.

AT THE PLATE: Albert Pujols capped a three-hit day with an eighth-inning RBI double to center for a key insurance run that gave the Angels a 9-7 lead. The slugger has multiple hits in eight of his last 10 games and is batting .350 (42 for 120) with 29 RBIs over his last 28 games, pushing his average to .279. Trout drove in the first three runs with a bases-loaded bloop double to left-center that dropped just out of the reach of diving left fielder Jake Smolinski in the second. Josh Hamilton doubled and scored in the third and hit a sacrifice fly in the sixth. Howie Kendrick and Efren Navarro each had two hits, with Kendrick scoring twice and Navarro hitting an RBI double in the fifth. Chris Iannetta hit an RBI single in the ninth, walked twice and scored two runs.

ON THE MOUND: Mike Morin allowed two inherited runners to score in the sixth when he gave up an RBI single to Smolinski and a run-scoring double-play grounder, and Jason Grilli gave up a run in the seventh on Rougned Odor's triple and Leonys Martin's RBI groundout. But Kevin Jepsen threw a scoreless eighth, and closer Joe Smith added a one-two-three ninth for his 15th save and his 10th consecutive hitless one-inning appearance.

NUMBERS GAME: Trout has 73 RBIs for the season, and 71 have come while batting second. The center fielder is on pace to break the major league record of 114 RBIs in the two-hole, set by Eddie Mathews in 1959 and Alex Rodriguez in 1998. ... Erick Aybar, who was named to the American League All-Star team on Thursday, notched his 50th RBI of the season with a third-inning single. The shortstop's career high for RBIs in a season is 59 in 2011.

Read more articles by MIKE DIGIOVANNA



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