Angels lose 8-3, with another poor effort by a starting pitcher

Mike Trout is still here. The offense is pretty productive, notwithstanding the Angels’ 8-3 loss Thursday to the Texas Rangers. There is no shame in getting shut out by Yu Darvish for seven innings.

But the Angels this year will go as far as their starting pitching can take them, and the early results are not encouraging.

The Angels’ starters have a 6.00 earned-run average — the highest in the major leagues, as of Thursday afternoon. Throw out the one scoreless start from ace Garrett Richards, who is on the disabled list with no timetable for his return, and the Angels’ starters have a 6.60 ERA.

“You’re not going to finish well if that’s going to be the rule of how they’re going to pitch,” Manager Mike Scioscia said.


The individual numbers: Jesse Chavez 5.40, Ricky Nolasco 5.40, Matt Shoemaker 7.71, Tyler Skaggs 8.71. First up to replace Richards: JC Ramirez, a reliever with a career ERA of 5.14.

The Angels are so strapped for fresh bullpen arms that they called up Daniel Wright from triple-A Salt Lake on Wednesday, let him throw the final four innings Thursday, then sent him back to Salt Lake.

Ten games does not a season make. The Angels have won six, leaving them tied with the Houston Astros atop the American League West. Nothing is doomed.

“These guys are going to pitch better,” Scioscia said. “We know that. They’re going to pitch deeper into games, and they’re going to give us the quality starts we’re looking for.”

The Angels have one quality start this season, ranking last in the major leagues. Nolasco threw it last week.

“No excuses,” Nolasco said, “but it’s April 10, 11, something like that? We’re confident in the ability of each of the five guys getting the ball. We’ll get there.”

Nolasco has pitched 16 2/3 innings this season and given up five home runs. No pitcher in the league has given up more.

On Thursday, he pitched five innings and gave up five runs on eight hits, including a leadoff home run to Carlos Gomez in the first inning and a two-run shot by Nomar Mazara in the third inning.

The Rangers scored once off Nolasco in the first inning, twice in the second and twice more in the third.

“That’s on me,” Nolasco said. “I put us in a really tough position against a really good pitcher.”

Darvish worked seven innings, giving up five hits and two walks, with 10 strikeouts.

The Angels were down to their last out when they finally scored, on a three-run home run by Danny Espinosa. Of his eight hits this season, three are home runs, all in the ninth inning.

Espinosa played last year for the Washington Nationals, where Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Tanner Roark head the rotation.

“Not every team has three of those guys,” Espinosa said. “But we have some very good pitchers. … We have the pitching. Sometimes it doesn’t work out. But it’s not the fact that we don’t believe in our pitching. I think we have a lot of trust and belief in our pitching.”

Follow Bill Shaikin on Twitter @BillShaikin