Garland’s extra effort is rewarded by Angels
It would have been a stretch to think Jon Garland would make it to the seventh-inning stretch Thursday night after the Angels’ right-hander was rocked for four runs and five hits in a 28-pitch first inning.
But there was Garland walking off the mound as “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” began, a “survivor,” as Manager Mike Scioscia called him for giving a depleted bullpen a much-needed respite after four relievers combined to throw 7 2/3 innings the night before.
That effort, which Garland extended to eight innings and 109 pitches, was rewarded with a win when the Angels rallied for five runs in the eighth, three on Juan Rivera’s pinch-hit double, for a 7-5 victory over the Texas Rangers at Angel Stadium.
Francisco Rodriguez threw a scoreless ninth for his 51st save, starting a game-ending double play on Michael Young’s grounder to the mound, and the Angels reduced their magic number to clinch the American League West to 13.
Garland improved to 12-8 despite giving up five runs and eight hits, including Milton Bradley’s three-run home run in the first and Chris Davis’ solo shot in the fourth.
“John struggled most of the night, especially early on, but he kept making pitches when he had to,” Scioscia said. “He kept grinding it out. That was a big eight innings for us, because we had a depleted bullpen.”
Indeed, when the Rangers put two on in the ninth, starter Jered Weaver began warming up. He was the long man Wednesday night.
“I told Butch before the game to just leave me out there,” Garland said, referring to pitching coach Mike Butcher.
“It didn’t matter if I give up 10 runs or throw a shutout. I’ll suck it up and give the pen a day off. . . . I tip my cap to the boys. They did some damage in the eighth.”
Trailing, 5-2, Vladimir Guerrero hit a one-out single off reliever Jamey Wright. Torii Hunter singled, his third hit of the game, and Garret Anderson walked to load the bases.
Mike Napoli walked to force in a run, and Texas Manager Ron Washington replaced Wright with right-hander Warner Madrigal, a former Angels prospect claimed by the Rangers last winter.
Brandon Wood popped to second for the second out, but Rivera, hitting for Sean Rodriguez, drove a cut fastball off the wall in center for a three-run double and a 6-5 lead.
Chone Figgins singled to center, and Reggie Willits’ infield single scored pinch-runner Robb Quinlan to make it 7-5.
“I wanted to get a good pitch to hit,” said Rivera, who hit into a game-ending double play against Oakland on Wednesday.
“I told myself not to let the pitch beat me, like it did [Wednesday] night.”
Garland was aided by several fine defensive plays by Figgins, who made a diving stop to his left of Young’s seventh-inning grounder and a diving stop to his right of Nelson Cruz’s eighth-inning grounder, throwing to first for outs on both plays.
“He was a human highlight reel,” Scioscia said of Figgins, who missed Wednesday’s game because of a sore left big toe.
The Rangers also helped Garland by getting a little too aggressive after taking a big early lead. Garland retired the side in order on seven pitches in the second, nine pitches in the third, eight pitches in the sixth and seven pitches in the seventh.
“They thought they had me on the ropes and started swinging early and often, and that worked in my favor,” Garland said.
“It would have been beneficial for them to take some pitches, considering the state of our bullpen.”