The home of the Texas Rangers hasn't been very hospitable toward the Angels, and not just because of the stifling heat and humidity that can be suffocating at times. The Angels lost their last eight games here in 2013, four in walk-off fashion, three on dagger-like, game-winning home runs.
But the Rangers seemed to put out a welcome (door) mat for the Angels at Globe Life Park on Thursday. Not only was Texas decimated by injuries and playing the worst baseball in the major leagues, but also its ace, Yu Darvish, who is 7-2 with a 4.00 earned-run average against the Angels, would not pitch in the four-game series.
To the surprise of no one, the Angels, baseball's hottest team, steamrolled the Rangers, completing their first-ever four-game sweep of Texas with a 10-7 victory on a scorching 99-degree Sunday afternoon.
Mike Trout drove in four runs with a pair of doubles, and Albert Pujols continued his four-week surge with three hits and an RBI, as the Angels (57-37) won for the 19th time in 23 games and moved 20 games over .500 at the All-Star break for the first time in club history.
With an explosive offense, solid starting pitching and a much-improved bullpen, the Angels have baseball's second-best record and are 1 1/2 games behind Oakland in the American League West. Since June 6, they're a major league-best 26-9. The Rangers have lost 22 of 25 and have baseball's worst record (38-57).
"Those guys scored seven runs on us and could have scored more," said Angels Manager Mike Scioscia, dismissing any suggestion that the Angels caught the Rangers at a good time. "You have to play well to shut them down, and I thought we did a good job of doing that."
They did by overcoming not only the Rangers but conditions that pitcher Tyler Skaggs described as "miserable, almost unbearable." The left-hander battled his way through five innings, giving up six runs and seven hits, hardly a gem but enough to earn his first win since May 20.
The game was stopped for a few minutes in the eighth inning while Angels medical personnel tended to a photographer who passed out because of dehydration in a camera well next to the Angels dugout.
"My cleats almost melted on the mound," Skaggs said. "It was like playing in an oven or running a blow-dryer on your face. But we persevered and won the game, and that's all that matters."
The Angels' bats were as hot as the weather here. They scored 33 runs in the four games, batting .345 (51 for 148) overall and .395 (17 for 43) with runners in scoring position. Trout, Pujols and Josh Hamilton combined to hit .442 (23 for 52) with seven doubles, 14 runs and 16 runs batted in.
"That's a very relentless lineup," said Texas Manager Ron Washington. "You make a mistake, and they make you pay for it."
The Angels will resume play Friday without a key reserve, outfielder Collin Cowgill, who suffered a broken nose and a small fracture in his right thumb when he was hit in the face by a high-and-tight Matt West fastball while squaring to bunt in the eighth inning Saturday night.
Cowgill will undergo surgery on his nose and be sidelined for four to five weeks, Scioscia said. He was placed on the 15-day disabled list, and the Angels called up utility man Grant Green from triple A on Sunday.
Cowgill, who is hitting .277 with five homers, 16 RBIs and 28 runs in 69 games, suffered a deep gash on the bridge of his nose and was bleeding profusely as he headed toward the dugout. He remained conscious and alert while being transported to a hospital for tests.
"As bad as it was, thank God he didn't get hit in the eye or the teeth," Scioscia said. "It's obviously a tough break, and it's a terrible injury, but the reality is, it could have been worse."