3 up, 3 down: Angels 4, Rangers 2

C.J. Wilson and four relievers cooled off the Texas bats and the Angels played a little small ball to win Game 2 of the three game series Saturday at Rangers Ballpark.

In contrast to Game 1, the Angels were crisp on defense, turning double plays in each of the first two innings. And their winning rally in the seventh inning came immediately after Texas tied the score at 2.

The Good:

Little things mean a lot. Textbook execution at the plate, something that couldn’t be said a lot about the Angels in 2012, produced a decisive pair of runs in the seventh. After Mark Trumbo waited out a leadoff walk, Howie Kendrick and Peter Bourjos bunted for base hits to load the bases. Facing hard-throwing Rangers reliever Alexi Ogando, pinch hitter Kendrys Morales and Mike Trout delivered sacrifice flies for a two-run Angels lead. Along with John Hester’s infield single, none of the three Angels hits in the inning reached the outfield. It was the kind of inning that could make an oldtimer smile.

Going deep. Coming off an impressive rookie season, the Angels 2012 expectations for Mark Trumbo are high. With good reason. In the fourth inning of a scoreless pitcher’s duel, Trumbo launched a drive into the left field stands an estimated 420 feet off Matt Harrison for a 2-0 lead. It was home run No. 5 for Trumbo, tying Torri Hunter for the team lead. His previous four were solo homers. Trumbo hit a team-leading 29 as a rookie in 2011 and was named the club’s MVP.

Good first impression. Newest Angels catcher John Hester, who joined the team on Friday, lined an opposite-field single in the third inning, the first hit off Rangers starter Matt Harrison. Maybe it shouldn’t come as surprise because Hester hit a pinch-hit home run in his first Major League plate appearance with Arizona in 2009.

The Bad:

Groovin. C.J. Wilson admirably handled Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton in his first two plate appearances, recording swinging strikeouts. Perhaps that lured C.J. into a false sense of security. Hamilton continued his torrid home run streak, his eighth in five games and third of the series, with a game-tying solo home run in the sixth. Wilson failed to finish the inning and left with a no-decision on a day when he pitched well.

Going quietly. Three hits through six innings is not going to cut it for the Angels. Three hits was all they could muster through the first six against Yu Darvish and Mark Lowe in Friday’s 10-3 loss to Texas. It was the same story in six against Matt Harrison on Saturday. A little early offense could make things less stressful for the starting staff.


K Zone. The first time through the batting order, four Angels struck out. But they also showed plate patience that was lacking all to often in the first 33 games. Angels fans can accept strikeouts when it means better at-bats.