Offensive consistency eludes Rangers' grasp

Offensive consistency eludes Rangers' grasp

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers had two hits in their first two at-bats with runners in scoring position on Monday. That allowed them to take a three-run lead in the bottom of the first inning.

But they went hitless in their next eight at-bats in those situations. That kept them from building on their lead, and they ended up falling to the Angels, 6-3, in the opener of a three-game series.

The Rangers had four hits in the first inning and three the rest of the night against Angels starter Matt Shoemaker and three relievers. Angels pitchers retired 26 of 30 batters after the Rangers went ahead in the first.

Despite the early outburst, the Rangers continue to grasp for offensive consistency.

"Everybody did a good job in the first inning being patient and getting good pitches to hit," outfielder Shin-Soo Choo said. "After that we were chasing [Shoemaker's] pitches and ... we made him comfortable."

Choo, in his first start since suffering back spasms in the home opener on Friday, had a particularly rough night. He struck out three times in going 0-for-4, including once with a runner in scoring position.

"Nobody is going to play 100 percent," Choo said. "[On Sunday] I played five innings and felt fine. I felt I could be in the lineup today."

"Three strikeouts, there was not a lot of contact," manager Jeff Banister said. "There are no indications it was back spasms. He might have been a little out of rhythm. We'll get him back in there. He'll be an instrumental part of our lineup."

Choo was hitting in the No. 2 spot behind Leonys Martin, who went 1-for-4 and has two hits in his last 26 at-bats. The top two spots in the Rangers' order are 13-for-73 after eight games.

Worth noting:
• Pitcher Kyuji Fujikawa will begin a rehab assignment on Tuesday at Double-A Frisco. He started the season on the disabled list with a strained right groin muscle.

Prince Fielder is 13-for-33 after eight games, for a .394 average. He has 11 singles and two doubles, and is 5-for-7 with runners in scoring position. The rest of the team is 6-for-55.

• Monday was the first loss the Rangers have taken this season despite having a lead at some point during the game.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.