Starting pitching was one of the biggest question marks for the Texas Rangers entering the 2018 campaign.
The Rangers expected to compensate by being able to go toe-to-toe with opponents in hitting and in the power department.
So far it has not happened for the Rangers, who hope to avoid a three-game sweep by the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas.
After Tuesday’s 11-1 loss, the Rangers are batting .236 and have hit 10 home runs while scoring 42 times. The struggles have resulted in a 4-9 start, which is the Rangers’ worst through 13 games since 2002.
The Rangers had 15 hits over their last two games but are lacking the big hit. They went 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position and left 11 runners on base Tuesday.
“I believe that playing from behind early on the past couple of nights has led us to press a little at the plate,” Texas manager Jeff Banister said. “Every one of these situations are learning experiences for our young guys, and they will continue to grow from that. There won’t be a lingering effect. These guys have a short memory and they need to have that.
“The season is 162 single-day events and we have to compartmentalize exactly what they are and deal with them.”
Meanwhile the Angels are hitting .286 after getting 31 hits in the first two games. At 9-3 they are off their best start since 1982 after Mike Trout hit his fourth homer 441 feet and Albert Pujols had two hits to get within 17 of 3,000.
“Our offense is going to be fun this year,” Trout told reporters. “We never think we’re out of a game.”
The Angels will attempt to get their fourth straight win and improve to 6-1 on the road by starting prospect Jaime Barria, who will make his major-league debut.
Last year he began the season pitching for Inland Empire in the Class A California League but rose to Triple-A Salt Lake by the end of the season. At three levels, he was a combined 7-9 in 26 starts with 117 strikeouts in 141 2/3 innings.
Now the 21-year-old native of Panama is in the majors to fill a rotation vacancy created by JC Ramirez going on the disabled list with a torn ulnar collateral ligament that will require Tommy John surgery.
“I thought this moment would come, just not so soon,” Barria said on Tuesday. “I learned at each level. I threw innings across three different levels last year, and it went really well. I feel prepared for my start tomorrow.”
Matt Moore (0-2, 11.5 ERA) will make his third start of the season after losing his first two outings for Texas. He last pitched in Friday’s 8-5 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays when he allowed six runs — five earned — in 3 1/3 innings. He is one of four pitchers with multiple starts of four or fewer innings and has a 2.182 WHIP after two starts, with a total of two 1-2-3 innings in those games.
Moore has gone 4-0 with a 1.78 ERA in five career starts against the Angels, all when he was with Tampa Bay. His 1.78 ERA is fourth-lowest among active pitchers with five-plus starts against Los Angeles. Moore has won each of his past four start against the Angels, most recently on July 4, 2016, at Tropicana Field.