ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP)—The first two stints Edinson Volquez had in the major leagues with the Texas Rangers were quite forgettable. He spent this season pitching at three different minor league levels before getting another promotion on Saturday.
Volquez got the victory in his regular season debut, beating the AL West-leading Los Angeles Angels 7-6. Marlon Byrd broke out of a rut with three hits including a solo homer, and the Rangers got two-run doubles from David Murphy and Brad Wilkerson against Kelvim Escobar.
“I’m really happy because I’m back in the big leagues and I got a win in my first game back,” Volquez said. “My problem the last time I was up here was my fastball command, so they sent me back to Arizona to get it back. Today I was confident. I just did everything I did when I was in Triple-A.”
The 24-year-old right-hander threw 94 pitches over five innings, allowing three runs and seven hits after getting staked to a 6-1 lead. He struck out four and walked two.
“He had good tempo out there, he used all his pitches around the strike zone and he showed some maturity,” manager Ron Washington said. “They made him work pretty hard and he piled up some pitches, but he certainly looked like he had some idea what he wanted to do.”
Volquez started his season at Bakersfield, then went a combined 14-2 with a 2.55 ERA for Triple-A Oklahoma and Double-A Frisco. He entered this game 1-10 with a 9.20 ERA in 14 big league appearances, including 11 starts, and was 0-3 with an 11.57 ERA against the Angels.
“That record he had up here was only because he couldn’t find the strike zone,” Washington said. “This year he went down to the minor leagues and he found the strike zone. There’s the difference right there. He worked on his mechanics, his attitude, his commitment, his effort, he worked on being a man— he worked on everything.
“He went from A-ball to the big leagues, and he deserves to be here. I’m so happy that he got his opportunity today, and he went out there and got us a victory. With the stuff he’s got, if he finds the strike zone, he’ll beat anybody.”
Garret Anderson homered and drove in four runs for Los Angeles, which remained 6 1/2 games ahead of Seattle in the AL West following the Mariners’ eighth straight loss. Howie Kendrick had three hits and two RBIs.
Anderson greeted C.J. Wilson with a three-run homer in the ninth after the left-hander relieved Joaquin Benoit. But Wilson came back to retire Maicer Izturis with a pop-up and Kendry Morales on a fly ball to end it for his ninth save in 10 chances.
“The biggest out of the game was getting Morales,” Washington said. “You’re never comfortable against that those guys until you get that 27th out.”
Escobar (15-7), perhaps feeling the effects of the 99-degree temperature at game time, lasted only 2 2-3 innings in his second-shortest outing of the season. He struck out six, but allowed 11 of his 18 batters to reach base— giving up five runs, six hits and four walks after going 4-0 with a 2.67 ERA over his previous four starts.
The right-hander, who began the day with the second-best ERA in the AL, saw it jump from 2.77 to 2.99. It was the fifth time in 26 starts this season that Escobar allowed more than three earned runs.
“It was pretty hot out there and it took me a while to get going,” said Escobar, who made 39 of his 78 pitches in the second inning. “I didn’t have my best stuff today and I never got into my rhythm. I couldn’t get my ball down in the strike zone. And when I got ahead, I couldn’t finish them off. They made me work, and they got me.”
With major league teams expanding their active rosters to a maximum of 40 players on Saturday, the Rangers activated third baseman Hank Blalock from the disabled list. The two-time All-Star had been limited to 39 games this season because of a condition called “thoracic outlet syndrome,” which affects the nerves that pass through the shoulder into the neck.
Escobar is 2-6 with a 3.88 ERA in nine starts against AL West teams this season. Both wins have come against the Rangers. … The Angels activated C Mike Napoli, who missed 33 games with a strained right hamstring. He was injured stealing second base on July 27. … Angels C Jeff Mathis threw out Kinsler trying to steal second in the first inning—the only time the Rangers’ leadoff hitter has been erased in 18 attempts this season. As a team, Texas had been successful in their previous 24 stolen base attempts since Byrd was gunned down by then-Angels C Jose Molina on July 5. … Angels RHP Rich Thompson made his major league debut with an inning of one-hit relief, striking out his first two batters. RHP Jason Bulger also made his big league debut for the Halos with a hitless ninth.