ARLINGTON, Texas — Early on, it looked like the Texas Rangers were going to boot Los Angeles Angels starter Shohei Ohtani early and break their three-game skid. Instead, the Angels lineup unloaded on Rangers starter Jordan Lyles, defeating Texas by a score of 9-4.
While the Angels got to Lyles for only one run in the first inning, the Rangers answered back with a phenomenal bottom half of the frame. The Rangers studied Ohtani's pitches, particularly his splitter, which gave them fits last week in Anaheim. Texas sent eight men to the plate and scored four runs off Ohtani, highlighted by a three-run home run by Nate Lowe.
Lowe's three-run jack was his sixth long ball of the season, and put him back atop the MLB leaderboard with 21 RBI.
"I thought our bats in the beginning were good. To a tee, exactly what we talked about," said Rangers manager Chris Woodward. "We put four on the board. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough."
Just when it looked like the Rangers were going to set things straight after a three-game sweep over the weekend, the wheels fell off.
The Angels teed off on Lyles in the second and third innings. In the second inning, Ohtani drove in two runs with a two-out double, then Mike Trout followed with an RBI single. Justin Upton and Albert Pujols led off the third inning with back-to-back home runs, then Trout added another two-out RBI with his third hit of the game to give the Angels a 7-4 lead.
"He didn't really have a good rhythm out there," Woodward said of Lyles. "I think after that first inning where we scored four, I don't know if sitting down for a while messed him up at all. I just know he had a hard time.
"He didn't use his changeup much. He just stuck with the fastball-slider. They weren't really swinging at his slider like they were in Anaheim. They got him in some tough counts, and a lot of those pitches kind of funneled right back to the middle, and they didn't miss them."
Meanwhile, Shohei Ohtani was able to right the ship on the mound. After David Dahl's sacrifice fly in the first inning, Ohtani retired 13 consecutive Texas hitters. Ohtani faced just one over the minimum for the next four innings, striking out nine Rangers hitters in the process.
"He's impressive, man," Woodward said. "Clearly, he's vulnerable in the first inning. He's shown that twice against us. To watch him settle down and go right back to [work], it's amazing. Then with the things he's doing with the bat, you just don't see what he can do."
The Angels bullpen picked up where Ohtani left off, shutting out the Rangers on just three hits in the final four innings of the ballgame.
With the bullpen already taxed from their previous series in Chicago, Rangers manager Chris Woodward brought in recently called up Hyeon-jong Yang to make his Major League debut. He helped stop the bleeding with 4 1/3 innings of relief, the second-longest outing by a Rangers reliever in club history when making their MLB debut.
The Halos did get to Yang for two more runs, including a solo home run by José Iglesias in the seventh inning. Even so, it was still a very good debut for the 33-year-old Korean left-hander.
"That lineup is not really friendly to left-handed pitchers," Woodward said. "It's not the best situation to put him in, to be honest. Especially to put him in in the middle of their lineup like that. But he want out and did what we saw all spring. He threw the ball over the plate and executed pitches, and used all of his pitches. He was very, very effective."
The Rangers (9-14) will try to break their four-game losing streak on Tuesday night, when they send Mike Foltynewicz (0-3, 5.32 ERA) to the mound. He'll face off with Angels southpaw José Quintana (0-1, 9.00 ERA).