ANAHEIM: The Angels finally have something to smile about.
After opening the season with two losses and placing Andrew Heaney on the disabled list, they pulled out their first victory, 4-3, over the Texas Rangers on Thursday night.
After being outscored by 14 runs in their opening two games, the Angels won this one by the thinnest of margins.
Albert Pujols’ two-out, bases-loaded “single” – actually a line drive into the left-center field gap — in the bottom of the ninth drove in Johnny Giavotella with the winning run.
The Rangers had just intentionally walked Mike Trout to load the bases for Pujols.
It was still a much better offensive night for the Angels, who had scored just one run in the first two games.
Trout, Pujols and Andrelton Simmons each got on the board after being hitless in the first series. Yunel Escobar hit the Angels’ first homer of the season, a solo shot in the third. Escobar also drove in the tying run in the fifth.
Craig Gentry put the Angels ahead with his second RBI in as many games.
On the mound, Hector Santiago provided the Angels first quality start in three tries this season, allowing three runs in six-plus innings.
It was really better than that, though.
One of the runs was unearned, and one of them scored after he’d left the game in the seventh inning.
Santiago gave up just four hits and two walks and he struck out seven, pumping fastballs a little harder than usual, up to 95 mph.
It didn’t start off well, with a walk to the first batter of the game, Delino DeShields. Santiago then got Shin-Soo Choo to hit a routine double play ball into the shift, but third baseman Yunel Escobar – playing on the right side – flipped the ball about 10 feet over Andrelton Simmons’ head. The error opened the door for the Rangers to score an unearned run.
After that, though, Santiago got on a roll. He gave up a solo homer to Robinson Chirinos, but otherwise retired 17 of 19 batters. And he promptly picked off the only other man to reach in that span.
In the seventh, Santiago gave up a leadoff single to Ian Desmond on a ground ball through the right side. Although the Angels had three infielders shifted to the left side, this ball would probably still have been out of reach of second baseman Johnny Giavotella even playing straight up. Mitch Moreland then dropped a bloop single into right, sending Desmond to third.
Angels relievers Jose Alvarez (one out) and Fernando Salas (two) retired all the batters they faced. Unfortunately for the Angels, one of those outs was a game-tying sacrifice fly.
They could have made things a little easier on themselves if they’d capitalized on a bases-loaded, no-out situation in the eighth.
Kole Calhoun then struck out and Andrelton Simmons hit one right to Adrian Beltre for an inning-ending double play.