Patrick Sandoval tried to flip the script from his last bad start.
He finished his outing after 5 2/3 innings with six strikeouts, giving up four hits, two earned runs, two walks, and one hit by pitch. But that final line would have certainly looked different if not for the sixth inning of the Angels’ sloppy 7-2 loss to the Texas Rangers on Friday at Angel Stadium.
“I felt really good, stuff felt good, slider was a little off today, but the rest of the pitches felt good,” Sandoval said. “Just felt more in control this game than the last two.”
Sandoval had pitched five scoreless innings, giving up only two hits — and holding his own in the pitching matchup with Rangers All-Star Martín Pérez — before the score changed in favor of the Rangers.
In the sixth inning, with one out and no one on, Rangers shortstop Marcus Semien cracked a double into the left-field corner off Sandoval’s 1-and-0 changeup. Jo Adell ran to retrieve it but couldn’t secure it in time to hold Semien at second.
Semien, seeing the trouble Adell was having, rounded second and was being waved home before Adell threw the ball to Luis Rengifo. Rengifo ripped the ball to catcher Kurt Suzuki but his throw bounced on the dirt just a foot from Suzuki, who couldn’t catch it, allowing Semien to score.
Adell said he was frustrated, especially with how well Sandoval was throwing, and that play changed the momentum of the game.
“It sucks,” Adell said. “I think he threw really, really well. He had a little scuffle there, but threw really well. I gotta be better. I gotta make the plays. It’s that simple. But we’ll get to work, I’ll get to work. I’ll get back out there. That’s why we play these many games. So tomorrow’s a new day.”
Sandoval said the play did not affect him.
“They just put the bat on some pitches, put the ball in play and made us make some plays,” he said.
Sandoval got his next batter, Leody Taveras, to ground out, and then walked Jonah Heim. His final batter of the game, Adolis Garcia, tried to recreate Semien’s at-bat with another double hit to left. Garcia didn’t score, but he did drive in Heim for a 2-0 lead.
The Rangers tacked on five more runs in the ninth inning on two hits given up by reliever Aaron Loup, three hits and two wild pitches by Elvis Peguero and a fielding error by Rengifo.
Loup got the first two outs of the inning, then gave up back-to-back singles to Josh H. Smith and Kole Calhoun. Peguero came on to try to secure the final out but gave up a double to Ezeqiuel Duran that scored Smith. Rengifo’s fielding error allowed Semien to reach base and Calhoun to score.
Duran scored on Peguero’s wild pitch and Semien went to second. Semien scored on a single by Taveras. Heim then reached on a ground-rule double that scored Taveras for the final run.
Interim manager Phil Nevin said he didn’t fault Rengifo for the defensive hiccup.
“Luis’s been great for us on both sides of the ball,” Nevin said. “It was a tough play coming in and he didn’t make the play.”
He also said that Peguero “got scattered” through the inning.
The Angels’ sleepy offense woke up just a little, mustering four hits.
Adell got the first hit — a double — off Pérez in the fifth inning and was left stranded. In the sixth, Brandon Marsh worked a walk, then David Fletcher worked a five-pitch at-bat for a single. And Rengifo knocked in Marsh with a single of his own.
The Angels got a break in looking to tie the score when Fletcher and Rengifo advanced when Perez was called for a balk. But Taylor Ward ended the threat with a flyout, leaving Fletcher and Rengifo stranded.
Rengifo and Jared Walsh then made a last-ditch effort in the bottom of the ninth inning.
Rengifo, who reached on a single, scored when Walsh’s sharp grounder got past Rangers first baseman by Nathaniel Lowe for an error to get the Angels their final run.
Still, the top of that sixth inning was one Sandoval probably would want back considering how the game had been going.
Sandoval cruised through the first and second innings, making quick work of his first seven batters before giving up a hit in the third.
That hit, a single by Rangers designated hitter Nick Solak, was followed by Sandoval walking Duran.
Pitching coach Matt Wise went out to talk to Sandoval, and he then struck out the last two batters of that inning.
He ran into another hiccup in the fifth inning, when he hit Solak on his first pitch to him that at-bat, but Solak didn’t score after being caught trying to steal second.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.