Rangers 7, Angels 0: Three Up, Three Down

ANAHEIM -- The Angels started off their biggest series of the season with an awkward first step, getting blown out by the steamrolling Texas Rangers 7-0 Tuesday night at Angel Stadium.

Texas has won 12 straight games and the Angels have lost four of their last five, imperiling their playoff hopes before the dog days even arrive. The Angels slipped to five games back in the AL West.

The Good:

Pitching assignments. The best thing the Angels have going for them -- and it's not even close -- is about to get tested. This is the kind of moment when the Angels need back-to-back ace performances from Dan Haren and Jered Weaver and, guess what, those are their next two starting pitchers.

Texas' brass. A lot of people wondered how the Rangers could switch roles on Alexi Ogando after he had been such an effective reliever for them last year, but it's generally a good idea to give your best pitchers as many innings as you can. Ogando has been one of the best starters in the league and made the Angels look like they were swinging toothpicks for eight innings. Ogando is 10-3 with a 2.72 ERA.

Toughness. Tyler Chatwood is far from as good as he'll one day be, but Tuesday he had plenty of opportunities to cave early and didn't. If he ever learns to throw more strikes, he could be a solid No. 2 or 3 starter. The 21-year old struggled through five innings, giving up three runs on seven hits and three walks, but it could have been worse. Texas is hot and they were all over him in every inning.

The Bad:

Slumping again. Torii Hunter just turned 36 years old on Monday. If he were hot, we probably wouldn't bring that up. He's not hot. Hunter remains 0-for-the-second half. He is hitless in 18 at-bats after the All-Star break, striking out three times Tuesday night.

Gas on the flames. Michael Kohn never gave up home runs in the minor leagues (five in 135 innings), but he's not currently in the minor leagues (though that probably can be arranged). Kohn has yielded six long balls in 12 innings this year, a pace that probably will earn him another trip to Salt Lake pretty soon. The Angels were kind of in it until Endy Chavez -- Endy Chavez ! -- blasted a two-run shot, then Josh Hamilton and Adrian Beltre went back to back.

Huh? The Angels were down 3-0 in the fifth inning when Erick Aybar hit a ball in the gap in left-center. Somehow, he figured that would be a good time to defy the old rule about not making the first out at third, because he went for it and was out easily. He probably would have scored, too, because Mark Trumbo followed by slamming a double into left.