Thursday, April 18, 2002
Rangers 4, Angels 1
The Associated Press
ANAHEIM, Calif The much-maligned Texas bullpen received a boost from two of the Rangers' starting pitchers Ismael Valdes and Hideki Irabu.
Valdes pitched 7 1-3 strong innings for his first victory with Texas, and Irabu preserved it with his first major league save as the Rangers beat the Angels 4-1 Wednesday night to snap a five-game losing streak.
Valdes (1-2) ended a personal streak of six losses in as many starts, dating back to last September with Anaheim. The right-hander, pitching for his fourth team in four seasons, allowed a run and three hits in his 200th career start, including Orlando Palmeiro's RBI single in the second.
I was giving my best effort on every single pitch. My teammates demand a good effort out of me, so I did the best I could, Valdes said. I was going pitch by pitch, out by out. That was my plan tonight. This was a big game for us, especially with the streak we've been on.
Valdes had retired 13 straight batters before hitting David Eckstein on the left hand with his 107th and final pitch.
If he had gotten him out, he'd have stayed out there till somebody got on base, Rangers manager Jerry Narron said. It was an outstanding outing and a just huge lift for our club.
Chris Michalak retired two batters in the eighth and Irabu allowed one hit in a scoreless ninth. The six-year veteran right-hander, who spent last season with Montreal, has been relieving lately because the Rangers don't need a fifth starter again until April 27.
Closer Jeff Zimmerman and setup man Jay Powell are sidelined with injures until Mid-May at least. Irabu's save was only the second in eight attempts by the Rangers' bullpen, and it came one night after they demoted John Rocker to the minors.
It felt real good, having a guy come out there who throws strike one right away, Narron said. I know our guys have a lot of confidence when Irabu comes into the ballgame. He has pretty good velocity, a very good split, and he can also throw a breaking ball. The guy's not going to beat himself.
Anaheim third baseman Troy Glaus, who took himself out of Tuesday night's game after striking out twice, again had problems with his contact lenses and didn't play. First baseman Scott Spiezio started at third and made a costly throwing error during the Rangers' three-run fifth.
The first five batters in the inning reached base against Scott Schoeneweis (1-2), who gave up a tiebreaking RBI double by Alex Rodriguez and a run-scoring single by Rafael Palmeiro that put runners at the corners.
Spiezio then charged Herbert Perry's grounder and got Rodriguez trapped in a rundown, but bounced his throw past catcher Bengie Molina and Schoeneweis. Rodriguez's run gave Texas a 4-1 lead.
The Rangers tied it at 1 in the fourth when Carl Everett broke out of a 4-for-29 spell with a leadoff homer to left-center. Four of his eight hits this season have been home runs.
I really haven't thought about numbers for him, Narron said. I just know that he brings a great deal of intensity to our club. He has a great desire to win and we've been very happy to have him here.
Schoeneweis allowed four runs and 10 hits over seven innings in his rematch with Valdes, after beating him 3-1 on April 6 in the Rangers' home opener. Since then, the Angels are 3-7.
We were pressing a little, Eckstein said. When you're below .500, people are going to be asking what's going on. But it's still early, and we just need to start picking it up.
Rangers pitching coach Oscar Acosta, whose injury-depleted bullpen entered the game with an 8.08 ERA, took issue with plate umpire Alfonso Marquez about his strike zone when he tried to break up a discussion on the mound with Valdes in the fourth. Acosta wound up getting ejected.
Oscar didn't say anything bad. He just basically requested that the umpire call the pitches equally, Valdes said. Oscar just asked him to be consistent, and he threw him out of the game.
Notes: With Angels closer Troy Percival set to come off the disabled list Thursday, the team optioned 30-year-old RHP Brendan Donnelly to Triple-A. ... Rocker, optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma after his second blown save in three tries, has yet to decide whether to accept the demotion. ... Glaus, who averaged 44 homers and 105 RBIs over the previous two seasons, has fanned seven times during an 0-for-15 drought. ... The victory was the Rangers' 200th against the Angels, against 214 losses. ... Perry played for the first time since April 11, when a pitch by Oakland's Mark Mulder left him with a deep bone bruise in his left knee. ... Rangers OF Gabe Kapler missed his second game because of a strained right oblique muscle.
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