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Rangers ride big 1st inning past struggling Angels, 11-4

April 5, 2019
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Texas Rangers' Joey Gallo, right, gestures as he scores after hitting a three-run home run as Elvis Andrus, left, waits to congratulate him and Los Angeles Angels catcher Jonathan Lucroy stands at the plate during the first inning of a baseball game Thursday, April 4, 2019, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
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Texas Rangers' Joey Gallo, right, gestures as he scores after hitting a three-run home run as Elvis Andrus, left, waits to congratulate him and Los Angeles Angels catcher Jonathan Lucroy stands at the plate during the first inning of a baseball game Thursday, April 4, 2019, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — The Texas Rangers are all about fast starts this season. Matt Harvey and the Angels couldn’t slow them down.

Joey Gallo hit a three-run homer and Ronald Guzman added a two-run shot in the first inning, and the Rangers extended their outstanding start to the year with an 11-4 victory over Los Angeles on Thursday night.

Shin-Soo Choo got his 1,500th career hit in the second inning before getting credit for a three-run double in the fifth when Brian Goodwin badly misplayed his short hit to left with the bases loaded. The Rangers pounded out 15 hits and never trailed, ruining the Angels’ home opener while cruising to their fifth win in seven games.

“To start out 5-2, nobody would have thought it,” Gallo said. “I mean, we did, but it’s exciting to see. It’s going really well so far for me personally and for the team.”

With their best start to a season since 2013, the Rangers are three games above .500 for the first time since May 22, 2017. It’s just a start, but it’s big for a franchise looking to rebound more quickly than expected from a 95-loss season.

“I’ll take five every first inning,” said rookie Texas manager Chris Woodward, the Dodgers’ former third base coach and a native of nearby Covina, California. “You can’t ask for a better start, and when a team is throwing strikes, we should be ready to hit them.”

The Angels’ start under a first-year manager has been markedly less impressive.

Mike Trout homered and threw out a runner at home for the Angels, who have lost five straight to drop to an AL-worst 1-6. Manager Brad Ausmus’ Halos are off to the franchise’s worst start since the 1961 expansion club began 1-8.

Kole Calhoun hit the first leadoff homer in a home opener in franchise history for the Angels, but they were already trailing 5-0 before Calhoun got to the plate.

“A couple of times we were one swing of the bat away from being right back in the game,” Ausmus said. “We just couldn’t get that big hit.”

Harvey (0-1) had a dismal debut at Angel Stadium, giving up 10 hits and eight runs while getting chased before he recorded an out in the fifth. The longtime Mets right-hander had never pitched in Anaheim, but the free agent signee returned from a solid Angels debut on the road by allowing 14 of the Rangers’ 24 batters against him to reach base.

“Everything was up,” Harvey said. “Nothing was really down in the zone. One of those (games) where no matter what I threw, they were getting good contact off it. It was a rough one, but I’ll take my 24 hours and be mad about it, and then the work will go on.”

Edinson Volquez was staked to a huge early lead, but he gave up four hits and four walks while failing to reach the fifth inning in his second straight start. Jeffrey Springs (1-0) pitched 2 1/3 innings of one-run relief.

KOLE’S START

Calhoun’s first-inning homer was his second of the season. He didn’t hit his second homer last season until June 19.

SIMMONS OUT

Gold Glove shortstop Andrelton Simmons left the game for Los Angeles in the third inning with lower back tightness. Ausmus was optimistic that the injury wasn’t serious, but Simmons will get further examination Friday. The Angels already are without left fielder Justin Upton, who is expected to miss at least two months after badly injuring his toe in an exhibition game at Angel Stadium last month.

CHOO’S HIT

Choo delivered a single in the second inning to reach 1,500 hits, extending his mark for the most hits by a South Korean player in the majors. He also scored two runs and was hit by a pitch for the fourth time in his five starts this season.

“It’s really special,” Choo said of his milestone. “I’ve never had a 200-hit season. I’ve just played long enough. I’ll still play this year, next year, maybe a couple more years, who knows how many (hits)?”

TRAINER’S ROOM

Rangers: OF Nomar Mazara got the night off after bruising his leg Wednesday in a collision with Houston’s Yuli Gurriel. Mazara could play Friday.

Angels: Shohei Ohtani hopes he can return to the lineup before May. The designated hitter had Tommy John surgery Oct. 1, but has been taking swings at pitches for over a week. He hasn’t taken live batting practice yet. ... RHP Nick Tropeano threw a bullpen session in Anaheim. He is returning from a right shoulder injury that kept him out of spring training.

UP NEXT

Felix Pena (0-1, 9.82 ERA) returns from a rough season debut for Los Angeles against Lance Lynn (0-0, 12.00), who gave up 10 hits and seven runs to the Cubs in his Rangers debut.

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