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Rangers rookie Solak gets another crack at Angels

It may be difficult for Nick Solak to top his first day in the majors.

He likely will get another opportunity when the Texas Rangers conclude a four-game series against the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday evening in Arlington, Texas.

Solak was removed from a Triple-A Nashville game on Monday night, shortly after Rangers right fielder Nomar Mazara exited the series opener against the Angels due to a left oblique strain.

Solak was added to the Texas roster when Mazara landed on the injured list on Tuesday, and he made his major league debut as the designated hitter in the first game of a doubleheader that afternoon. He collected his first big-league hit in the 5-1 loss.

In the second game, Solak started at second base and belted a fastball over the opposite-field fence in right for his first big league homer, breaking a scoreless tie in the fifth inning. He later slapped a hard-hit grounder that slipped under the glove of Angels first baseman Albert Pujols with two outs in the 11th inning, allowing the winning run to score in a 3-2 victory.

Solak displayed his power with Nashville, clubbing 10 homers in 30 games after he was acquired from the Tampa Bay Rays organization on July 13. Nashville hitting coach Howard Johnson told the Prospect Times that Solak is very adept at hitting the high strike, something the 24-year-old accomplished on his home run on Tuesday.

"That's his best spot," Johnson said. "He's done a nice job of trying to make pitchers come to that spot, and when they do, he makes them pay."

The Angels plan to send rookie left-hander Patrick Sandoval to the mound Wednesday for his third major league start.

Sandoval (0-1, 5.79 ERA) most recently pitched 4 1/3 innings on Friday against the visiting Chicago White Sox, allowing three runs and five hits and taking the loss in the 7-2 defeat. He struck out three and walked one. He has not faced the Rangers.

He'll be up against veteran left-hander Mike Minor, who threw a combined 15 shutout innings in back-to-back 1-0 wins in his first two outings this month.

Minor (11-7, 2.94 ERA) wasn't as sharp in his last start on Friday against the visiting Minnesota Twins, however. He allowed four runs (three earned) and eight hits in seven innings, taking the loss in a 4-3 defeat.

Minor has faced Los Angeles three times this season, and the Angels have gotten a better eye for him with each game.

Minor threw a three-hit shutout against Los Angeles on April 16 in Arlington. He faced them in Anaheim on May 25 and gave up one run and five hits in six innings. He did not receive the decision in Texas' 3-2 loss.

Minor most recently pitched against the Angels on July 2 and went just 4 1/3 innings on 110 pitches. He allowed three runs and two hits, struck out four and walked four in the Rangers' 9-4 loss, but he did not receive a decision.

Overall, he is 3-0 in his career against Los Angeles with a 2.70 ERA in eight appearances, six starts.

Minor might be charged with slowing Angels outfielder Brian Goodwin, who continues to contribute when given the opportunity. He came through with a game-tying homer in the ninth inning of the second game Tuesday. Goodwin was claimed off waivers shortly before the start of the season when left fielder Justin Upton injured his right toe.

"No one knew him," Angels manager Brad Ausmus told reporters after the doubleheader split. "He got a lot of playing time, initially, because Upton was out, and he performed extremely well. Now, he's in a role where he's not playing quite as much and continues to perform well. It's been huge."

--Field Level Media