Two of the top home-run hitters in the American League will be in the spotlight Tuesday night when the Texas Rangers open a two-game series against the Los Angeles Angels in Anaheim, Calif.
Rangers center fielder Adolis Garcia and Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani each have 14 home runs this season, putting them atop the AL leaders entering the week. The Blue Jays’ Vladimir Guerrero Jr. passed them on Monday.
The early power production from both players has been a surprise, especially from Garcia, who didn’t homer in his first 24 major-league games with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2018 and the Rangers in 2020.
He even began this season at the team’s alternate training site.
Garcia hit three home runs over the weekend to help the Rangers sweep a three-game series against the visiting Houston Astros. He also delivered a walk-off infield single in a 3-2 win in 10 innings on Sunday.
“The guy’s got confidence,” Rangers manager Chris Woodward said. “He’s got more confidence than probably anyone in baseball right now.”
Ohtani hasn’t homered in his past five games after clearing the wall in three straight games.
He came off the bench and delivered a sacrifice fly to help the Angels rally for a 6-5 win against the visiting Oakland A’s on Sunday and avoid a three-game sweep.
The comeback was big for Los Angeles, which has struggled since the Rangers last visited Anaheim. Texas took the rubber game of that series on April 21, erasing an early deficit that was initiated by home runs from Ohtani, Justin Upton and Mike Trout.
The Angels came into that game with a 9-6 mark but have gone 11-21 since. Los Angeles early last week also lost Trout to a calf injury that is expected to keep the three-time AL Most Valuable Player sidelined six to eight weeks.
“I know from the outside it doesn’t look the greatest, but these guys are fighting every single day,” Upton said. “We, as a team, we feel like sometimes we’re putting ourselves in positions (to win), but it just hasn’t worked out for us. But we battled back (Sunday) and put ourselves in position to win one, and we were able to. Hopefully this can spark the club.”
One area that needs to improve for the Angels is the bullpen. Their relievers have a 4.96 ERA, fifth worst in the majors. They combined to limit the A’s to one run over the final 6 2/3 innings on Sunday, however, a major boost for their morale.
“The bullpen has been much maligned, but they did a great job (Sunday),” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “The only thing we need to get going with this group is their confidence. They are good. They’re very talented; they just don’t have that mojo, that confidence. But (they) will.”
The Rangers were looking forward to Monday’s day off after playing 11 straight days. Woodward said he expects them to come back eager to win four in a row for the first time this season.
“There may be a little bit of burnout mentally, physically,” Woodward said. “But the way these guys played the last three days, the human spirit was in full form. Our guys are fighting their butts off out there.”
The pitching matchup on Tuesday night is expected to pit Rangers left-hander Hyeon-Jong Yang (0-1, 3.38 ERA) against Angels lefty Andrew Heaney (1-3, 5.31).
Yang has faced the Angels once in his career, going 0-0 with a 4.15 ERA in 4 1/3 innings. Heaney has gone 2-5 with a 5.17 ERA in 13 games — 71 1/3 innings — against the Rangers.
–Field Level Media