ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) – After watching the Texas Rangers steal 13 bases in the last two games of their three-game sweep of the Angels, Los Angeles manager Mike Scioscia is looking for answers.
One night after the Rangers swiped six bases with Chris Iannetta behind the plate, they got seven more against Hank Conger in a 10-3 rout. Opponents are now 101 for 124 in that department.
“We have to get better at that,” Scioscia said. “It’s one thing giving up the stolen base. You’re not going to change your whole game plan to shut down the running game, but you have to try to contain it. They have some guys there that can run, but they shouldn’t be running with the ease they are against us.”
The Rangers, who did not steal a base in Monday’s series-opening 5-2 win, were two shy of the club record set on April 20 and equaled the most allowed against the Angels. They had four in the first inning against Conger and batterymate Tommy Hanson – including a double-steal by Leonys Martin and Elvis Andrus.
The Rangers’ last stolen base was by Craig Gentry in the seventh inning with the Rangers ahead 7-2.
“They’re playing baseball. No problem with that,” Scioscia said. “If we’re on the other side we’re going to do the same thing. The running game was a big part of their night tonight.”
Martin and Andrus each stole three bases, with Andrus reaching the 30 mark for the fourth time in five big league seasons. Andrus has stolen 14 consecutive bases since June 25, when the Yankees’ Chris Stewart threw him out at second with David Robertson on the mound.
Hanson (4-3) was charged with five runs, seven hits and three walks in 4 2-3 innings following four straight no-decisions. The right-hander, who joined the Angels in November from Atlanta in the Jordan Walden trade, beat the Rangers 8-4 in his Angels debut on April 6 at Texas.
“My command wasn’t as consistent as I wanted it to be,” Hanson said. “Facing a good team and facing good major league hitters, it’s got to be there – and it wasn’t. I felt like I was quick to the plate on the stolen bases. I don’t know if they got good jumps off me or what.”
Josh Hamilton, who signed a five-year, five year, $125 million contract with the Angels as a free agent after six seasons with the Rangers, was 0 for 12 in the series five strikeouts. He is batting just .217 with 16 homers and 51 RBIs.
When asked if Hamilton would be struggling at the plate this much had he re-signed with the Rangers, Texas manager Ron Washington said: “That’s a loaded question. I would like to say yes, but I don’t know that. I do know they’ve got a quality player here – five tools, baby. Five tools. He can take a ballgame over and do a lot of things. Maybe he’s not doing them right now, but he hasn’t lost that skill. I don’t care if he keeps swinging and missing, he’s still dangerous.”
“I think that he’s is still adjusting to his new environment, and it’s a big adjustment,” Washington added. “It’s the first time this guy had this much pressure on him, but I think he’s learning from what he’s going through. He’s been through it for about a year now, but I think everybody’s going to be very happy with him as (things evolve.) I think next season, they’ll see what Josh is all about.”
Adrian Beltre had a homer and three RBIs and scored three runs, Alexi Ogando won for the first time in his last five starts, and the Rangers climbed into a virtual tie with Oakland for the AL West lead with their ninth win in 10 games.
It’s the first time Texas has had at least a share of first place since July 1, when the Rangers led the Athletics by a half-game. They were a season-worst six games off the pace on July 28 after getting shut out for the second straight time at Cleveland.
“That’s the place we were supposed to be,” Beltre said. “I know Oakland’s been playing well this season, but we assumed we would be there. We haven’t won anything yet, but at least we’re going in the right direction. We’re been more consistent and getting the big hits in clutch situations. That’s something we were supposed to be doing the whole year and something we weren’t doing two or three weeks ago.”
Ogando (5-3) allowed two runs four hits over five innings and struck out four in his 14th start and 11th on the road, shrugging off a two-run homer Mike Trout hit in the first inning on his 22nd birthday. The victory was the right-hander’s first since May 15 at Oakland.
Trout followed hit his 20th home run in the first inning, marking the second straight year that he homered on his birthday. Last year at Oakland he became the fifth player in major league history to hit one on the day he turned 21, joining Ted Williams, Frank Robinson, Alex Rodriguez and Jason Heyward. The Angels’ All-Star center fielder also robbed Gentry of a home run in the fourth.
NOTES: The Angels have lost a franchise-record seven straight games to the Rangers, including a three-game sweep at Texas last week in which every game was decided by a game-ending home run. … Iannetta got the night off. He has no RBIs in his last 28 at-bats against the Rangers since his solo homer against Ryan Dempster at Texas on Sept. 28, 2012. … Mark Trumbo is batting just .240 despite his 25 home runs. Six players in Angels history finished a season with at least 25 homers and an average under .250 – Vernon Wells (.218 in 2011), Reggie Jackson (.223 in 1984), Mike Napoli (.238 in 2010), Troy Glaus (.240 in 1999), Brian Downing (.242 in 1988) and Chili Davis (.243 in 1993). … Angels RF Kole Calhoun hit an RBI double in the seventh against LHP Robbie Ross, their first confrontation since Calhoun beat Ross in the Angels’ annual cow-milking contest last year.