ANAHEIM, Calif. — One would never know by looking at the standings, but the Texas Rangers starting pitchers have hit a bump in the road of late. They are hoping it doesn't result in a detour on the way to the American League West title.
The Rangers' starting five of Yu Darvish, Cole Hamels, Martin Perez, A.J. Griffin and Derek Holland went a combined 1-4 with an 11.70 ERA their last time through the rotation.
Darvish started a new cycle Friday against the Los Angeles Angels and pitched well, giving up one run in 6 2/3 innings. Hamels (14-5, 3.25 ERA) starts Saturday's game against the Angels, and is hoping Darvish's performance will be the spark it needs to help the rotation work its way out of the funk.
“It's tough,” Hamels told MLB.com. “There are little things that you go through during the season. You get tired and something might change. As much as we'd like to be automatics, you've got to keep fine-tuning it. You're not going to be at your best unless you push it to a higher level.”
The Rangers shouldn't feel too sorry for themselves, though, as the Angels start someone who hasn't pitched in the majors since June 13. And even when he was on a major league roster, he wasn't pitching very well.
Right-hander Daniel Wright makes his Angels debut Saturday after being claimed off waivers from the Reds on Sept. 4. He will be the 15th pitcher to start for the Angels this year, the most in the American League.
But he's getting a chance that is essentially an audition for next season.
“He's an arm we want to take a look at,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia told MLB.com. “He's started (in the minors), so he should be stretched out enough. It's a chance to see what he's got.”
Wright is taking the spot on the rotation formerly held by right-hander Matt Shoemaker. Shoemaker was hit in the head by a line drive hit by Seattle's Kyle Seager on Sept. 4 and suffered a small skull fracture and small hematoma.
Shoemaker had to undergo surgery to stop the bleeding, but has since returned to his home in Southern California and is resting comfortably. He said he hopes to visit his teammates sometime on the current homestand.
“All of your loving comments has made it that much easier for me & my family. It is very much appreciated! So many genuine people, thank you,” Shoemaker tweeted.
Despite their respective places in the standings, the Angels have handled the Rangers well for the last couple years. Despite the 2-1 loss Friday the Angels are 7-7 versus Texas this season after going 12-7 last year.
Since 2014, the Angels are 33-19 against the Rangers.