Angels get message in lopsided loss to rivals

Angels get message in lopsided loss to rivals

Angels get message in lopsided loss to rivals
ARLINGTON -- If this series is meant to be a barometer of where the Angels stand, the opener revealed they have a long way to go.

Against a Rangers team that has made it to two straight World Series and came in with baseball's best record, the Angels were pounded from the get-go on Friday night, suffering an eye-opening 10-3 loss at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington that saw them drop to eight games back in the American League West standings.

The series opener included a 1-hour, 56-minute rain delay and a two-homer game by Josh Hamilton. It saw C.J. Wilson pitch to just five batters and Yu Darvish mostly dominate through 5 1/3 innings. And it provided a fairly accurate snapshot of where these two clubs are right now.

The Rangers, who lead the AL in almost every major offensive category, had 15 hits and batted around in a six-run first inning that essentially put the game out of reach. The Angels, who have struggled to score consistently with Albert Pujols in a dreadful slump, mustered six hits and never really threatened to come back.

"Come on, man, there's still a lot of games left," said Pujols, who went 0-for-4 to put his batting average at .192. "You're trying to create or write something negative like everybody else has already. It's just one game. We just need to come back tomorrow and put ourselves in a situation to try and win the series on Sunday."

Wilson, the former Rangers ace who had hurled six straight quality starts to begin his Angels career, got one out, gave up a run on three straight singles, issued a walk, then came off the field after intense showers eventually caused the delay in the bottom of the first.

Shortly after the rain settled, the Rangers flexed their muscles.

"They came out swinging," Mike Trout said, "and by the time we blinked, it was 6-0 already."

When play resumed, Darvish remained in the game, but Wilson was swapped out for scheduled Saturday starter Jerome Williams and ended up being charged with four runs, raising his ERA from 2.61 to 3.46, while suffering the loss.

Wilson, who threw 22 pitches in his abbreviated start, will start Saturday afternoon's game against the Rangers. When he does, he will become the first pitcher to start consecutive games since former Rangers righty Aaron Myette, who was ejected after four pitches on Sept. 3, 2002, then started the following day.

The Rangers (22-11) jumped out to the big early lead on an infield single by Adrian Beltre (one of three off Wilson), a two-run single by Nelson Cruz (on the first pitch Williams threw), a fielder's choice on a grounder by Mitch Moreland (who pinch-hit for catcher Yorvit Torrealba after he was nailed in the head by Pujols' back swing) and a two-run triple by Craig Gentry.

Williams' mindset heading in was that he would start Saturday, but he had an hour and a half to get ready, was on normal rest thanks to Thursday's off-day and didn't offer up any excuses.

"When the ball comes to me, I have to be ready," Williams said. "I'll be ready any time. It happened. They asked me if I was ready, and I'm a competitor. I'm ready. And I took the ball."

He wasn't ready to face Hamilton, apparently. To be fair, nobody seems to be these days.

The Rangers' star outfielder had already notched an epic four-homer game against the Orioles on Tuesday and came in leading the Majors in batting average (.395), homers (15) and RBIs (38). In the second, he hit a towering fly ball to right field for home run No. 16. Then, in the fourth, he went deep to right field again, taking a 1-1 changeup out to make him just the third player in history to club 17 homers through his club's first 33 games.

His three hits on the night raised his average to .407.

"He's as locked in as any hitter can be right now," Scioscia said, "and he's definitely swinging the bat well."

The Angels (14-19) had very little chance against Darvish, who came in 4-1 with a 2.54 ERA, then gave up only a Trout two-run homer and a Torii Hunter solo shot in his 5 1/3-inning outing, scattering three hits, walking three and striking out seven.

The Rangers, coming off a doubleheader on Thursday, needed Darvish to be ready. And Darvish, with an assortment of breaking pitches that confused the Angels all night, gave them what they needed.

"I expected to stay in the game," Darvish said. "No matter how long the delay was, I expected to keep myself ready to pitch. Mentally, I was focused all the time."

Pujols, meanwhile, continued to struggle -- hitting two popouts to third base in foul territory, striking out and hitting a check-swing groundout to second base. Afterwards, Pujols said he's "seeing the ball good," but nothing about his at-bats Friday provided any signs of that.

"It was a tough night for him," Scioscia said. "Every time he feels like he's inching closer and feeling more comfortable, he's taking a half-step back. We just need him to keep grinding. I know that he's working hard at some stuff, he's frustrated, but we're going to keep moving forward.

"Tonight, we just didn't play a good game on the defensive side, cracked the gate open a bit for them, and they took advantage of some things. Obviously it wasn't what Albert did or didn't do tonight."

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for Read his columns and his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.