Texas Rangers need Cole Hamels to set the tone vs. Angels

Texas Rangers starter Cole Hamels will get the nod in game one of a three game set vs. the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Tuesday night. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Texas Rangers starter Cole Hamels will get the nod in game one of a three game set vs. the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Tuesday night. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports /

The Texas Rangers set off on a nine game road trip, starting with three in Anaheim with Cole Hamels starting the opener.

After taking two out of three from the Oakland Athletics over the weekend, the Texas Rangers turn to ace Cole Hamels to keep the momentum going. He’ll make his second start of the season after exiting against Cleveland with the lead in game three.

Hamels had the Rangers in position to take the series finale from the Indians, but closer Sam Dyson had control issues. Five runs later, Texas found themselves 0-3 while Dyson found himself 0-2 after three games. But the rotation and the lineup bounced back over the weekend, and now they have a full head of steam on the road with them.

Hamels at Angels Stadium

In just two career starts at Angels Stadium, Hamels has pitched very well. Each time he went six innings, surrendering one and two runs, respectively. Interestingly, his first game there came in his second start last season on April 9.

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Hamels earned the victory in that first game at Anaheim, yielding just four hits and three walks on 95 pitches. The lone run came fairly innocently after a single, a walk, a groundout and a fielders’ choice in the first inning. From there he was cool and in control, pushing the Rangers to 3-3 on the season.

His other game there came in September where he should have earned the win. However, the bullpen had a rough seventh inning following Hamels’ exit. His 4-2 lead was converted to a 5-4 deficit when Keone Kela struggled to keep Texas ahead. But in typical 2016 Rangers fashion, they came back and won.

Hamels vs. the Angels

Over his career, Hamels has started a total of five games against LAA. While his strikeout numbers are relatively low against the Angels as compared to other opponents, they don’t make great contact against him. They’ve combined for an average of just .211 against him and have slugged a mere .281.

Of course, his best game against the Angels came in his final start of the 2015 season. With the American League West title on the line, Hamels pitched a complete game 9-2 win. After a first inning home run from Albert Pujols, he dominated the Anaheim lineup. His 108-pitch masterpiece was the performance of the season and the highlight of that 2015 pennant race.

Among current Angels hitters, left fielder Cameron Maybin hits him the best. He has a .371 batting average in 35 plate appearances against Hamels. Maybin leads all active LAA players in hits against Hamels with 13 and doubles with four. However, he also leads them all in strikeouts with 10. Basically, he either gets a base hit or he strikes out with little in between.

Shortstop Andrelton Simmons has not fared well against Hamels. They’ve squared off 25 times, with Simmons earning just two singles and a double. First baseman C.J. Cron hasn’t hit that well against Hamels, either with just two hits in 12 at bats and a .167 slugging percentage.

Rangers vs. Skaggs

On the mound for the Angels, lefthander Tyler Skaggs will take the hill. In four career games against Texas, he’s 2-1 with a 5.49 earned run average. The Rangers have hit him well with 20 hits and 11 walks in 19 2/3 innings.

However, not many current Rangers have experience against Skaggs. Jurickson Profar has the only extra base hit: a lone double in three plate appearances. Shortstop Elvis Andrus has the most hits against him among all current Rangers with three in seven at bats. With a .429 average and .600 on base percentage though, he’s gotten pretty familiar with Skaggs in that short time.

Next: Rangers three stars vs. Oakland

First pitch will take place at 9:05 CDT. The telecast can be seen in Dallas/Fort Worth on Fox Sports Southwest. Audio can be heard on 105.3 FM The Fan in English and 1270 KFLC in Spanish. A web stream of the game can also be seen on mlb.tv or foxsportsgo.com. Sirius/XM subscribers can also hear the Rangers broadcast of the game on SiriusXM Internet 867.