Angels have best start since 1982 after 11-1 win against Rangers
Tyler Skaggs wouldn’t reveal the source, but he was more than happy to share the message.
“Effectively awful,” that’s what someone in the Angels’ clubhouse called his five innings of huffing and puffing Tuesday in an offensively-induced 11-1 victory over Texas.
“Perfectly described,” Skaggs said. “A frustrating outing today. But I got through it. Did my job. Happy (manager Mike Scioscia) let me get through the fifth.”
The Angels finished with 18 hits and were 8 for 11 with runners in scoring position as they won for the ninth time in 11 games.
All that offense again obscured the lingering rotation issues seen over the first dozen games. A group also hit with injuries, the starters have struggled trying to just hang around.
Entering Tuesday, only the Rays and Marlins — on average — had received fewer innings from their rotation. The Angels have just three quality starts, two of them by rookie Shohei Ohtani.
Skaggs had to work to minimize the damage early, leaving the bases loaded in the first and second. As his teammates scored in each of the first four innings, he battled to make it through the five needed to qualify for the victory.
“I gotta clean it up,” said Skaggs, who threw a career-high 114 pitches. “Some mechanical issues still in the first few innings. … I caught a lot of breaks today.”
Entering the game, the Angels’ offense led baseball in runs, hits, extra-base hits, homers and total bases.
Then Martin Perez happened. The Texas left-hander never appeared comfortable as the Angels continually twirled around him on the bases.
Every starter had at least one hit, and seven had at least two. And that latter group didn’t include Justin Upton, who still reached base four times in four official at-bats.
“We take pride in just passing the baton,” said Mike Trout, who contributed two hits including his fourth homer, a 441-footer to left-center. “Our offense is going to be fun this year.”
The game was done before it was halfway over, the reeling Rangers as lifeless as the atmosphere inside their ballpark, one that was easily more than three-quarters empty.
Through the first four innings, the Angels were 13 for 23 (.565 average) with four walks and two homers. Only leadoff hitter Zack Cozart hadn’t scored or driven in at least one run.
Upton already had walked three times and the bottom third of the order was six for nine with three RBIs.
“It’s phenomenal,” Skaggs said. “I love the run support. Keep scoring as many runs as possible. Makes my job a lot easier.”
The Angels started a lineup Tuesday that had Luis Valbuena batting ninth. Valbuena hit 22 home runs in 2017, a total that was third on the team and would have tied for third on the World Series-winning 2002 Angels.
By the time this one mercifully ended, Rene Rivera was playing first base, Valbuena was playing second and Shohei Ohtani was grounding out in his first career pinch-hitting appearance.
The Angels have now won six of seven and, at 9-3, have matched the franchise record for best mark 12 games into a season.
This is the third Angels team to open 9-3, the previous two coming in 1979 and 1982, seasons that ended with playoff appearances.
Though baseball is still a marathon and not a sprint, it is worth noting that the first strides of the 2018 Angels have been impressive ones.
Even on a night when the performance of their starting pitcher was linked to the word “awful.”
“He got out of the jams,” Trout said of Skaggs. “He battled tonight.”
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