ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Tyler Skaggs’ No. 45 jersey still hung prominently over his locker in the visiting clubhouse after the Los Angeles Angels wrapped up their first series since the 27-year-old pitcher’s death.
While the grieving Angels lost 9-2 in the finale against the Rangers in the Fourth of July game that Skaggs had been scheduled to start, Los Angeles took the first two games during the series after he was found unresponsive in his hotel room in Texas.
“Taking two out of three from a pretty good team that’s second in the division, under the circumstances, I think is a victory,” catcher Jonathan Lucroy said.
“It’s been really tough, yet the guys haven’t made any excuses,” he said. “We’ve gone out there and played hard, played to win. That’s what Skaggsy would have wanted, and I don’t think he would have liked it too much if we’re in here feeling sorry for ourselves about it.”
Lance Lynn worked seven innings to match the major league lead with his 11th win, and Rougned Odor homered twice to drive in five runs for the Rangers, who snapped a four-game losing streak.
Mike Trout hit another impressive homer for Los Angeles in the first inning, his AL best-tying 25th. But Lynn (11-4) limited the Angels to only one more run while striking out five without a walk over his 115 pitches.
“There’s no manual for how you handle something like this. I think the games do provide a space for (players) because they’re trained to focus on just their job, and not be reminded of Tyler’s passing,” Angels manager Brad Ausmus said. “You look at it from a baseball perspective, we were able to win two out of three on the road against a team that’s in front of us in the standings. But it certainly wasn’t easy.”
An emotional trip for the Angels that began with them traveling to Texas in cowboy hats and Western attire — a theme initiated by Skaggs — now takes them to Houston for three games this weekend against the Astros before the All-Star break.
The Rangers went ahead to stay on Nomar Mazara’s two-run double in the third that made it 3-2. Mazara finished with four hits.
Odor hit a two-run homer in the fourth, snapping his streak of four consecutive strikeouts and seven Ks in his previous eight at-bats. His three-run shot to center in the seventh was estimated at 471 feet.
All that offense was plenty for Lynn, the first Texas right-hander since 1998 to have 11 wins before the All-Star break. He has gone at least six innings in 13 consecutive starts, the longest stretch for a Rangers pitcher since 2013, and has won his last five decisions.
“He’s so reliable. You know he’ll go deep in the game, you know he’s going to compete on every pitch,” Texas manager Chris Woodward said. “That’s fun to watch. It’s been a huge factor for us being in the position we’re in now.”
Trout’s homer was his third in two games, and ninth this year against Texas to match an Angels record for the most against another team in the same season. The estimated 445-foot laser ricocheted off the glass facade of a club beyond the first deck of seats in left field.
Vladimir Guerrero had nine homers for the Angels against Seattle in 2001, and Tim Salmon hit nine against Cleveland in 1998.
The Angels still play their AL West rival six more times this season. That includes a doubleheader when they return to Texas for another series Aug. 19-21, though it hasn’t been announced on which of those days there will be two games.
CLEVELAND ON CRUTCHES
Angels second baseman Tommy La Stella will go to next week’s All-Star Game in Cleveland on crutches and in a cast. The first-time All-Star is out 8-10 weeks after he broke his right tibia when he fouled a 97-mph fastball off his lower leg on Tuesday. Ausmus, a one-time All-Star as a player, helped convince La Stella that “he deserved it, he earned it” even though he can’t play. “I think he’d regret it if he didn’t go experience,” Ausmus said.
Angels: OF Justin Upton didn’t play after leaving Wednesday night’s game with left quad tightness. … INF Zack Cozart, out since May 27, saw Rangers team physician Dr. Keith Meister for a second opinion on his left shoulder. Cozart will get a new MRI in California on Friday. He played only 58 games in 2018 before surgery on a torn labrum.
Angels: The Angels face another 10-game winner (Justin Verlander) in the opener of a three-game series at Houston.
Rangers: RHP Adrian Sampson, 6-2 in his last nine games, starts the opener of a weekend series at Minnesota on Friday night.