It’s the big, Fourth of July holiday weekend, and nothing goes better with the patriotic revelry than some baseball. The Angels would be on the road for this year’s festivities, landing in Arlington tonight to start their much-anticipated series with the Texas Rangers. The discussion about this game was mainly centered around Josh Hamilton, as this would be the first time seeing his former club since the ugly ordeal between him and the team went down. Hamilton had said in earlier interviews that he would not have any more motivation in this game than any other, but I’m not sure the Angels got the "yo chill" memo. Going off the performances from the game, they were undoubtedly motivated, and it turned them into a red jersey-wearing steamroller on both ends of the game.
The Angels were shamelessly feasting on Rangers pitching all night long, whether it was starter Chi Chi Gonzalez(who only pitched 1.2 innings), or relievers Anthony Bass or Neftali Feliz. This game would be busted open quickly, via a fist-pumping, action packed, six-run top of the second. C.J. Cron kicked it off when he hit an RBI single to left field, and then the Angels began to rain on Chi Chi’s parade, big time, because they would eventually work the bases loaded, and then Kole "The Red Baron" Calhoun hit a scorching double to deep right center, clearing the bases and making the score 4-0. After that, Chi Chi Gonzalez would be done, but the Angels were far from done. Erick Aybar hit a two-run RBI single off of reliever Anthony Bass, and the Rangers fan’s hearts sank to the bottom of their sweatpants, as the game was now 6-0 Los Angeles.
In the third, Kole Calhoun continued his love of the two-bag hit, when he hit yet another double, this time scoring one run(it would have been two, but Johnny Giavotella was gunned down at home plate. It wasn’t even close). It was an unbelievably studly night at the plate for our fan favorite right fielder, but he wasn’t the only one who was absolutely feeling it in the hot Texas dusk. David Freese would have three hits on the night, including an RBI single in the fourth that gave the Angels their EIGHTH run. By this time in the game, the team was already over the 10 hit mark, and they everybody would continue to pitch in with singles here and there. The Rangers pitching had no answer for the Angels tonight, and it almost brought a tear to my eye.
Meanwhile, Garrett Richards was on the hill for the Angels, and was giving Texas fits in just about every side. Richards has put together a few good starts in a row, and tonight followed that trend in it’s upward trajectory, as he got his 9th win after going 7.2 IP, and giving up just ONE run on six hits, while also striking out six. As far as the Josh Hamilton showdown, he was all of the player that we saw in his time with the Angels. That is to say, he whiffed pretty hard at a few pitches, and would get struck out two times. He did get a double, but it was long after the Angels had jumped out to their insane lead. Adrian Beltre singled and scored Prince Fielder in the sixth, and Ryan Rua hit a solo shot off of back-on-the-team Mike Morin(remember him?) in the bottom of the ninth, and those were the only bright spots of their day. Richards seems to have found a good groove, getting 10 groundball outs through seven innings, and he’s got plenty of confidence to build on from this start.
Out of all the dominance showed in tonight’s 8-2 drubbing of the Rangers, the most noteworthy perhaps may be Erick Aybar’s 5-for-5 night at the plate. It was Aybar’s first five hit game of his career, the fifth and final hit coming on a nifty infield single to third base. All in all, it was a great game to watch, and to not only bask in the Hamilton Ks, but also the pure swagger that the Angels had at the plate, and that Richards was putting on every ball thrown. This could be the start of a huge series win against a division rival, and I can’t imagine a better time to do it.