Rookies lead Rangers past Angels 5-2 to avoid 100th defeat

MLB

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP)Rookie Andy Ibanez’s two-run single highlighted a four-run second inning for Texas and fellow rookie A.J. Alexy won for the third time in four career starts as the Rangers beat the Los Angeles Angels 5-2 on Tuesday night to stave off their 100th loss for a second consecutive game.

Ibanez matched a career best with three hits for the Rangers (58-99), who haven’t lost 100 games since 1973. He’s hitting .418 in his last 21 games with multiple hits in 13 of his last 20.

”He’s relentless in the batter’s box,” Texas manager Chris Woodward said. ”He doesn’t take a pitch off.”

Max Stassi hit a two-run home run for the Angels, who have lost nine of 11.

Alexy (3-1) allowed three hits, beginning with Stassi’s second-inning homer, in five innings and threw a career-high 91 pitches. It was his first win since his record-setting first two starts, during which he allowed only two hits in 11 innings.

”Obviously, I want to find that guy who pitched the first two times,” said Alexy, who subsequently struggled in relief against the Houston Astros and in a start against the New York Yankees. ”But I’m glad I went through those bumps in New York and against the Astros ’cause I think it’s a big learning curve.”

Three Texas relievers combined to throw three hitless innings, and rookie Joe Barlow celebrated his 26th birthday by pitching a scoreless ninth for his 10th save in 11 opportunities. Fifteen Los Angeles batters were retired between Jack Mayfield’s fourth-inning single and Jared Walsh’s infield single in the ninth.

Angels manager Joe Maddon lamented that some well-hit balls, particularly by Brandon Marsh and Shohei Ohtani, were lined into Texas’ shift. Ohtani, third in the majors with 45 homers, went 0 for 3 with a walk, his 14th in his last five games.

”They played great positional defense,” Maddon said. ”You do hit in bad luck sometimes. You’ve just got to keep beating on the door.”

Angels starter Packy Naughton (0-4), another rookie, gave up four runs in two innings on four hits and three walks.

Jonah Heim pulled a double into the left-field corner to score Charlie Culberson with Texas’ first run. After Ibanez’s bases-loaded single gave the Rangers a 3-2 lead, rookie Adolis Garcis drove home Isiah Kiner-Falefa on a grounder.

Ibanez tripled to left in the seventh on a sinking liner that skipped past the charging Phil Gosselin and scored on Garcia’s single to left.

MADDON ON OHTANI

Maddon said Ohtani’s comments on Sunday about wanting to win in the future don’t mean the two-way star, who becomes a free agent after the 2023 season, wants to leave a club that’s had six straight losing campaigns.

”We all feel the same way,” Maddon said before the game. ”We all want to win. If anybody misconstrues that as though he wants to leave, that’s trying to connect some dots that weren’t necessarily what he, not at all what he said.”

VERSATILE ROOKIE

Garcia, Texas’ right fielder, threw to first base in the fourth inning to double off Mayfield for his 16th outfield assist of the season, tying Boston’s Hunter Renfroe for the major league lead. He made a spectacular catch in foul territory on David Fletcher in the second inning, crashing into the wire fence. And his two RBIs gave him 88, leading all big league rookies and tying the rookie club record set by Pete Incaviglia in 1986.

”What he did today on defense, those are two plays you don’t see anybody else make,” Woodward said.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Angels: Maddon said there’s no reason to believe RHP Jaime Barria (shoulder impingement), placed on the 10-day injured list on Sunday, should be affected going into next season.

UP NEXT

Angels rookie RHP Janson Junk (0-1, 3.75 ERA) and Rangers LHP Taylor Hearn (6-5, 4.55) will face each other for the second time this month. Junk made his big league debut in Texas’ 7-3 win on Sept. 5, allowing five runs (one earned) in 3 2/3 innings. Hearn pitched a career-high seven innings, won that Sunday and is 4-2 since earning a regular rotation slot in late August.

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