Forget all the arcane stats, the reams of scouting reports and all those pitcher-batter charts some managers treat like infallible religious texts.
Sometimes baseball is nothing more than a game of hit and miss. And on Sunday it was Angels starter Jon Garland who did the missing and Texas catcher Gerald Laird who did the hitting, belting a pair of homers and driving in six runs to lift the Rangers to a 10-4 victory that wasn’t nearly as close as the score would indicate.
“It was ugly,” Angels hitting coach Mickey Hatcher said, “from the get-go.”
Ugly also would have been a fair description of Laird’s season before Sunday since he entered the game batting .091 for the first week and had just one career hit against Garland. He doubled that total in the third, leading off with a single that ignited a two-run Rangers rally.
An inning later he followed a walk and hit batter with a three-run home run and the rout was on.
“I didn’t really establish myself on the mound. Location was all over the place,” Garland said. “I didn’t make pitches. I definitely lost command.”
Angels Manager Mike Scioscia agreed. “He missed some spots on a couple of hitters,” Scioscia said, “and they didn’t miss their pitches.”
Especially Laird, who grew up a few miles away in Westminster and marked his homecoming with a career day, equaling lifetime bests for hits (four) and homers while setting one for runs batted in. That’s better than he did all of last September when he hit just one homer and had five RBIs in 43 at-bats.
“You want to do well in front of your home fans,” said Laird, who came in batting .191 at Angel Stadium. “I felt relaxed coming into this series. I had some good at-bats in Seattle. I didn’t have any luck, but I felt this would be the series I would break out.”
Laird wasn’t the only Ranger doing some breaking out, however. Texas got at least one hit in every inning, piling up 14 in the game. And the bottom third of the lineup -- Ben Broussard, Laird and Ramon Vazquez -- combined for six hits, six runs, three homers and nine RBIs.
Angels center fielder Torii Hunter, who put in more miles than an Olympic marathoner trying to track down some of those drives, was left shaking his head. Once he caught his breath, that is.
“Today was pretty impressive,” he said. “Hitters, they have their times. When they’re hot, they’re hot. You can’t do anything about it.
“When you’re locked in, I don’t care what hitter you are. I don’t care if you’re the little guy or the big guy. If you’re locked in, you’re ready to go, nobody’s going to get you out.”
Certainly not Garland the way he pitched Sunday. After giving up harmless singles in each of the first two innings, he was pounded for seven runs and eight hits in the next three, his worst outing since Aug. 2 when the Yankees scored eight times against him.
The Angels tried to keep pace, scoring four times in the first five innings -- three of them coming on homers by Garret Anderson and Hunter -- before eventually going cold as a trio of Rangers pitchers combined to set down the last 13 Angels in order.
“We just couldn’t hold them down where we needed to get an opportunity to get back into the game,” Scioscia said. “They swung the bats well today.”