Rangers 3, Angels 1
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP)—Rookie catcher Gerald Laird is going to become a favorite of his pitching staff if he keeps throwing out potential base stealers at this rate.
Laird threw out three baserunners trying to steal second on Wednesday night, and Michael Young hit a tiebreaking two-run triple to help the Rangers beat Anaheim 4-1 for their fifth win in six tries against the Angels.
“That’s always been my strong point, being able to throw guys out,” Laird said. “Every level I’ve played at, I’ve led the league in throwing-out percentage, so I just want to be consistent and continue that success.
“What it does is help out our pitchers. If they see I can throw guys out, they’re going to hold guys on for me,” Laird added. “We kept three guys out of scoring position, and Dickey was able to do his thing and focus on making his pitches.”
Laird, who grew up about 10 minutes from Angel Stadium, has thrown out six of 10 runners this season, including David Eckstein in the first inning.
“They play the game right and play the game hard,” Eckstein said. “They’re going to be in a lot of ballgames because they play for nine innings.”
The last Rangers catcher to throw out three runners in a game was Doug Mirabelli, on May 7, 2001, against the White Sox.
“I owe a lot of it to Mike,” Laird said of Young, who shifted from second base to shortstop this season after AL MVP Alex Rodriguez was traded to the Yankees. “I had a couple of tough throws and Mike made some good plays for me with those tags.”
R.A. Dickey (2-1) allowed a run and six hits over seven innings, struck out seven and walked one. The right-hander was shelled for nine earned runs, nine hits and three homers over 4 2-3 innings in his previous start against Oakland on April 14.
“As a big leaguer, it was probably one of my more rewarding outings—just because of the adversity I went through last week,” said Dickey, who pitched on six days’ rest. “The rest probably did help. I felt stronger as the game went on, and I felt like I could have finished the game. My body responded real well and it was a fun night.”
Pitching coach Orel Hershiser believes Dickey’s success is and will be predicated on his knack for pitching through tough innings.
“I see a positive future for him,” Hershiser said. “I see him as a guy who’s going to grind out wins and find a way to win games. I mean, he’s going to get his lunch handed to him by teams, but he’s got two or three pitches that are bona fide big league `out’ pitches.”
Dickey pitched with runners on base in each of the first five innings. He was bailed out twice on strikeout-caught stealing double plays as Laird threw out Jose Guillen with Jeff DaVanon at the plate in the second, then erased Bengie Molina on a failed hit-and-run with Adam Kennedy up in the fifth.
“The strikeout-throw-em-out double plays help your pitch count, and it’s incredible the kind of weight that lifts off you,” Dickey said. “All three of those pitches were fastballs, so it was a situation where I had to do my job and he had to do his.”
The Rangers, who won the opener of this three-game set on Tuesday, had not won any of their previous 20 road series against AL West teams since taking two of three at Anaheim in September 2000. They lost 18 of those series and split two.
Texas improved to 8-7, the Rangers’ best start since winning 10 of their first 15 games in 1998. They have finished last in the AL West in each of the last four seasons.
Lackey (0-3) pitched 6 2-3 innings and allowed three runs on seven hits, including an RBI single by Hank Blalock in the first. Gonzalez singled home a run in the ninth for his first major league RBI.
Darin Erstad drove in Anaheim’s run with a sacrifice fly in the third.
Former AL Cy Young winner Frank Viola, an ESPN analyst who also coaches baseball at Lake Highland Prep in Orlando, Fla., was in town to broadcast the Rangers-Angels game and missed seeing one of his pitchers, 18-year-old senior Tony Capoverdi, throw a no-hitter the night before. … Young is 12-for-26 with seven RBIs against Anaheim this season. … Angels DH Tim Salmon missed his second straight game because of inflammation in his left knee. He doesn’t expect to play in Thursday’s series finale against Texas.