MLB

Angels-Rangers Preview

The Los Angeles Angels are struggling on the mound - especially their starters.

Things may not improve by giving the ball to erratic left-hander Hector Santiago, who will try to bounce back from a rough season debut in the finale of this three-game set with the Texas Rangers on Wednesday.

Los Angeles (3-5) has dropped four of five thanks in large part to an 8.14 ERA from the rotation after it had a 3.15 mark through the first three games.

Drew Rucinski turned in the latest poor performance Tuesday, giving up four runs with four walks in 2 2-3 innings in an 8-2 loss at Texas (4-5).

The Angels would like to see some improvement from Santiago, who gave up three runs and six hits while hitting a batter and throwing 100 pitches in 5 1-3 innings of a 4-2 loss to Kansas City. His 18.0 pitches per inning last year tied Tampa Bay's Jake Odorizzi for the most by a pitcher with at least 24 starts.

"He's tried," manager Mike Scioscia told the team's official website. "I think he's tried his whole life. Hector has a really good arm. He's got a delivery with a little deception. At times, it's herky-jerky. At times the ball is sneaky, and that release point, he works to try to stay in sync.

"Part of what makes him a little bit deceptive is how he releases the ball. At times there's an inefficiency there that he pays a price for."

That's exactly what happened against the Rangers on Sept. 19. Santiago was hammered for seven runs before being yanked with no outs in the second inning of a 12-3 home loss.

He hasn't had any such issues in four starts at Arlington, going 3-0 with a 2.42 ERA.

While the starting pitchers have slumped, the reigning AL West champions haven't been much better at the plate with a .215 average and 3.0 runs per game on the season.

Albert Pujols has been a major culprit, going 4 for 27 with two homers and three RBIs. He's 0 for 5 with three walks in this series after batting .333 over his previous 12 games in Texas.

The Rangers are trying to win back-to-back games for the first time after catcher Robinson Chirinos collected a career-high five RBIs with a double and his first homer of the season Tuesday.

"If you have a win, no matter how you do, that's a victory for everybody," said Chirinos, who is 3 for 17 on the season.

Texas is recalling Anthony Ranaudo from Triple-A Round Rock to face the Angels for the first time in place of Derek Holland, who went on the 60-day disabled list Saturday with a shoulder injury.

That's a scenario the Rangers were planning for after sending Ranaudo to the minors last month. He lost out to Nick Martinez for a spot in the back of the rotation by giving up nine runs in 14 1-3 innings in four games during spring training.

Ranaudo went 4-3 with a 4.81 ERA in seven starts for Boston last season before joining Texas in a January trade that sent left-hander Robbie Ross Jr. to the Red Sox.

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