ARLINGTON – The All-Star break can’t get here fast enough for the Texas Rangers.
Texas lost its sixth straight game, spoiling what has been a rare sight in recent weeks: a quality start. Nick Tepesch pitched into the seventh inning and just three Angel runners scored on the night, but an anemic Ranger lineup put up a goose egg in the runs column, dropping a 3-0 decision.
Mike Trout provided the first hit and run of the night for the Angels with a 418-foot blast into the visitors’ bullpen in the fourth inning.
Los Angeles would put runners on first and third after a pair of singles later in the fourth, but Robinson Chirinos threw out Erick Aybar swiping second to end the frame.
Trout’s homer would be all the Angels needed to make seven shutout innings from Garrett Richards stand up, but Los Angeles would tack on late insurance runs.
The visitors’ half of the seventh embodied the game-of-inches cliché, as the first two Angels reached on hits that just missed finding the mitts of Rangers’ middle infielders. Two men on instead of two men out led to a pair of runs in the inning.
Elvis Andrus misplayed a sharp grounder from Albert Pujols, and Josh Hamilton looped a single just out of reach of 5-foot-11 Rougned Odor and into right field. Singles from Aybar and David Freese plated the final two runs for Los Angeles.
Neftali Feliz allowed the second run to cross home, but both were charged to the ledger of Nick Tepesch, who gave Texas just its second quality start in the last 12 games.
"He executed his pitches extremely well tonight," manager Ron Washington said. "There may be one pitch he wants to take back. He tried to go way in on Trout and it rode back over the plate and [Trout] got it."
Tepesch retired the first ten Angels he faced to start the game.
Texas saw six chances with runners in scoring position, but each came with two outs.
"When you can get hits with two outs you give yourself a chance to be successful, we just couldn't do it tonight. They shut us down," Washington said.
The Ranger bats managed to advance a runner to third just twice in the game, and stranded each 90 feet from home. In both the fourth and the sixth innings, a two-out attempt to steal second turned into a runner on third after a throwing error by Los Angeles catcher Hank Conger.
It was Carlos Peña in the fourth and Leonys Martin in the sixth who stood at third when the final out was recorded. Elvis Andrus was caught stealing with one out in the fifth.
"We had opportunities to score but couldn't capitalize," shortstop Elvis Andrus said. "It was a close game for us and we were just a hit away from getting back in the game."
Richards, who was a nominee for MLB’s “Final Vote” to make the American League All-Star team, struck out eight and scattered just five Ranger hits over his seven innings of work.
The closest the Rangers would come to scoring against the LA ‘pen would be a 400-foot flyout by Adrian Beltre in the eighth inning. He fell just shy of a two-run blast with one out in the inning.
Beltre did extend his hit streak to 15 games with a third-inning single to right field.
Shin-Soo Choo struck out three times on the first-ever Korean Heritage night at Globe Life Park.
The third game of a four-game series with Los Angeles is slated for Saturday night at 6:15 p.m.