ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP)—A slow start last season cost the Los Angeles Angels at the end. This time, they’re at least out of the gate fast.
Ervin Santana held Texas to four hits in seven innings, Gary Matthews Jr. made another leaping catch and Los Angeles beat the Texas Rangers 5-3 Wednesday for only the fourth 3-0 start in franchise history.
“We’re playing good baseball,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “We still have some things we’re trying to clean up, but all in all, we’ve had a lot of good things happening.”
The Angels outscored the AL West-rival Rangers 17-7 and left Texas rookie manager Ron Washington still looking for his first victory. The Angels had last opened with a three-game sweep in 2004 at Seattle.
Last year, the Angels struggled to a 17-28 start and didn’t sweep a three-game series until July 3-5 at Seattle. Their 54-29 record from July on was the best in the major leagues, but they still missed out on the postseason after winning consecutive division titles.
Vladimir Guerrero, a scourge of Rangers’ pitchers, singled in another run in the series finale. He went 6-for-11 (.545) in the three games with a homer, a double and five RBIs. In 57 career games against Texas, he is batting .437, with 21 homers and 50 RBIs.
The Angels’ Garret Anderson, healthy for the first time since 2003, doubled and singled in the series-closing win. He also made a fine sliding catch in left field and scored twice, the second time beating the throw home by second baseman Ian Kinsler on Howie Kendrick’s grounder.
Casey Kotchman, considered one of the team’s best hitting prospects before a viral infection sidelined him for most of last season, went 5-for-9 and drove in three runs in the series.
Matthews went 5-for-10 and scored four times against his former team, and he also had several defensive gems in center field, including a leaping catch above the fence to rob Michael Young of a homer in the first inning Wednesday.
“I knew right away when I hit it that, `Hey, he’s got a play on that,”’ Young said. “If he doesn’t, it’ll be just out of his reach or right against the wall and he’ll jump. I’ve seen him do that before. He’s one of the best.”
“I think you’ve got to give credit to their pitching staff. They were bending, but they didn’t break. We worked their pitch counts up, but they still hung in there,” Washington said. “And once you let the Angels get into the eighth and ninth innings, it’s usually over with (Scot) Shields and Rodriguez. We respect those guys over there, but we know we can play with them.”
Los Angeles took a 4-0 lead in the first off Brandon McCarthy (0-1), with two of the runs unearned because of Young’s error at shortstop. Guerrero singled home one run and Anderson doubled in another.
McCarthy, making his Texas debut, allowed five runs—three earned—and 10 hits in six innings. He spent most of his last year, his first full season in the majors, as a reliever with the Chicago White Sox and went 4-7 with a 4.68 ERA in two starts and 51 relief appearances.
Matthews led off the bottom of the first with a single, advanced on a wild pitch and took third when Young made an error on Orlando Cabrera’s liner.
Guerrero followed with his third straight first-inning RBI single, Anderson doubled off the wall in right, Kotchman hit an RBI groundout and Maicer Izturis had a sacrifice fly.
Texas got its first two runs in the third on Gerald Laird’s sacrifice fly and Young’s RBI single.
Texas OF/DH Sammy Sosa Wednesday off. The 38-year-old Sosa, coming back after sitting out the 2006 season, went 1-for-7 and struck out three times in the opening two games. … Guerrero was the DH instead of in his usual spot in right field, with Scioscia saying he intended to use some of the veteran players in the DH role when the team plays a day game after a night contest. Reggie Willits started in right.