ARLINGTON, Texas — For most of the night Friday, the Texas Rangers seemed to treat the Angels like a wad of gum stuck to the bottom of their shoes — with more annoyance than real concern.
All the positive momentum and yes-we-can spirit the Angels took with them into this crucial series melted away in the Texas heat as the Rangers pounded them for 18 hits including three home runs in an 11-7 victory in the series opener at the Rangers Ballpark.
The loss snapped the Angels’ season-high six-game winning streak and dropped them three games back in the American League West.
“It’s one loss,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “We need to turn the page and move on to (today’s) game. Obviously, everything is magnified tonight because we’re playing the team we’re trying to catch. But it’s one loss and there’s still a lot of baseball to be played.”
The Angels were able to close the gap with the Rangers while playing the Baltimore Orioles and Chicago White Sox over the past week.
But the Rangers have a way of magnifying the distance between the two teams when they face off. The Rangers have won seven of the past 11 head-to-head meetings, outscoring the Angels 46-22 in those seven victories while the Angels’ four victories have all been one-run decisions (three when they scored a total of six runs).
“We can score runs. But obviously it’s not the type of game we want to play, not the type of game we’re built for,” Scioscia said of the run totals that seem to swell with the heat in Texas.
No team has scored more runs in their home park this season than the Rangers.
“We do need to pitch. We need to make plays defensively,” Scioscia said. “Tonight we let some things get away from us. But this season we’ve held our own with these guys in this park (splitting the first six games). ... We need to control the game better on the pitching side and we will. Tonight, some things got away from us.”
The Angels were out of this one before the temperature dipped below 100 degrees. Starter Dan Haren was knocked from the game in the fifth by David Murphy’s grand slam and matched his season-high by allowing seven runs for the second time. The other time was a similar 4 1⁄3-inning outing in his previous start against the Rangers.
Haren has allowed 14 runs on 20 hits in 8 2⁄3 innings over those two starts against the Rangers.
“I never really had a quick inning,” said Haren, who took the mound in 102-degree heat at the start of the game and had thrown 106 pitches by the time he headed to the dugout for good.
“I was working real hard every inning and working that hard you’re more vulnerable to making mistakes which I did.”
He wasn’t the only one. With the score a modest 3-0 in the fifth, Michael Young led off with an infield single. Mike Napoli followed with a ground ball to second baseman Howie Kendrick who threw to Erick Aybar at second to start a double play. But Aybar dropped the ball and both runners were safe.
After a strikeout, Nelson Cruz dribbled another infield single to load the bases. Murphy unloaded them with a home run down the right-field line.
“In the fifth, we could have minimized some damage if we get that 4-6-3 double play,” Scioscia said. “You can talk about (giving up) 11 runs. But if we can turn that double play, the game sets up differently. Dan’s out of the fifth and who knows? If we get some offense ...”
The Angels got no offense until the seventh. They were shut out through six by Rangers left-hander Derek Holland. It was the 44th time in their 131 games this season the Angels have been shut out through at least the first five innings (the record is 63 in a 162-game season by the 1963 Astros).
The Rangers had been going through some offensive struggles of their own. They had no more than eight hits in each of their previous eight games (their longest such streak of the season). By the end of the sixth Friday, they had 17 hits and led 11-0 with Cruz piling up six RBI on a run-scoring double and 877 feet worth of home runs — a 452-foot blast off Haren (the 10th-longest in Rangers Ballpark history) and a 425-foot three-run shot off reliever Jerome Williams.
The Angels closed the gap late. Bobby Wilson broke up Holland’s shutout with a two-out RBI single in the seventh. Russell Branyan had a three-run home run in the eighth (his third home run in his past 10 at-bats) and Kendrick had a two-run homer in the ninth.