Rangers get to Angels early, often

No matter that the Angels had won 14 of their last 18 games when the Texas Rangers arrived in Anaheim to open a three-game showdown in the American League West.

It’s the Rangers who have the key to the city so far this year.

Angels starter Joe Saunders hadn’t yet thrown 25 pitches Friday when the left hander already had surrendered two home runs in the first inning, including a three-run shot by Josh Hamilton.

Texas didn’t treat Saunders’ relievers any better, especially Justin Speier, who gave up three more home runs to the Rangers in a single inning.


The Angels tried to claw back as Maicer Izturis hit a three-run homer of his own in the seventh inning, but by that time Texas was beyond reach and the Rangers won, 11-6, at Angel Stadium.

After the game, Saunders, who was pulled after 1 2/3 innings, was put on the 15-day disabled list because of tightness in his left shoulder that has been nagging him all season.

“It doesn’t hurt, my shoulder feels good, it’s just a matter of getting extension” with his arm, Saunders said. “But it’s hurting the team and that’s the last thing I want to do.”

Angels Manager Mike Scioscia said the team would decide soon who would replace Saunders in the rotation. “We’re not really seeing him move forward with his stuff,” Scioscia said, adding that Saunders probably would miss three starts. Pitcher Jose Arredondo was called up from triple-A Salt Lake City to fill Saunders’ roster spot.


Saunders had opened the year 5-1 but has gone 4-6 over his last 16 starts. The Rangers’ win was their eighth in 10 games against the Angels this season -- Texas also took two of three in Anaheim last month -- and their latest victory lifted the Rangers to within 3 1/2 games of the Angels’ lead in the West.

Altogether the sellout crowd of 43,624 saw a combined 27 hits with the 17 runs.

The Rangers’ leadoff hitter, Omar Vizquel, had a banner night, going four for six with a home run, his first in nearly two years. He started the hitting parade against Saunders in the first inning with a lead-off single. Andruw Jones walked and Hamilton launched his home run on an 0-and-1 pitch into the right-field stands.

Two pitches later, Hank Blalock hit a solo homer into the right-field corner to give Texas an early 4-0 lead.

Rangers starter Scott Feldman also got off to a rocky start, walking Juan Rivera with the bases loaded in the opening inning to give the Angels their first run. But Feldman settled down while Saunders continued to struggle in the second inning, with Texas catcher Taylor Teagarden -- who entered the game hitting .194 -- doubling down the left-field line.

After he scored on another Vizquel single, Saunders hit Marlon Byrd with a pitch and was replaced by Matt Palmer. Texas added another run off Palmer in the third inning, when David Murphy doubled and scored on Vizquel’s third single of the night.

Then it got worse for the Angels.

After Speier replaced Palmer in the fifth inning, Speier was tagged for solo home runs by Teagarden, Vizquel and Michael Young.


The Angels mounted a rally in the seventh when Erick Aybar, Mike Napoli and Gary Matthews Jr. hit consecutive singles off Feldman, who was replaced by reliever Jason Jennings.

Aybar scored when Howie Kendrick hit into a fielder’s choice and, with Napoli and Kendrick still aboard, Izturis hit his home run into the right-field corner.