ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Shin-Soo Choo was back in the Texas Rangers’ lineup Saturday night despite a sore left ankle that forced the left fielder and leadoff hitter out of the series opener. He had an RBI single that gave them the lead against Garrett Richards and the Los Angeles Angels.
But Albert Pujols tied it with an RBI single off Matt Harrison, and C.J. Cron drove in the go-ahead run with a sixth-inning single off Shawn Tolleson in his major league debut. Cron had three hits in the Angels’ 5-3 victory, including a single on Harrison’s first pitch to him in the first inning.
“He ambushed me swinging at the first pitch,” the left-hander said. “I guess he was excited. He looks like a good hitter. He can swing the bat. He went 3 for 4 tonight. Good for him.”
Cron’s three hits were one more than his father’s entire major league total. Chris Cron was 2 for 25 in 12 games with the Angels and Chicago White Sox between 1991 and 1992.
“It’s awesome,” said the 24-year-old prospect, who led all of minor league baseball with 123 RBIs in 2012 while playing for Inland Empire of the Class-A California League. “My dad was drafted by the Angels and played with them, so I’m just kind of following in his footsteps. I haven’t spoken to him yet. I know he was in the Dominican today, so I’m not sure if he’s home yet. But I’m sure he’ll call me sooner than later.”
Cron, born in nearby Fullerton and drafted by the Angels with the 17th overall pick in 2011, had his contract purchased from Triple-A Salt Lake before the game after third baseman David Freese went on the disabled list with a non-displaced fracture of his right middle finger. Freese was hit by a pitch from Colby Lewis on Friday.
Howie Kendrick doubled with two outs in the sixth against Tolleson (0-1) and scored the go-ahead run when Cron lined a 1-1 pitch to left.
“It was a slider that missed badly,” Tolleson said. “It backed up so badly, I was surprised he swung at it. It was up and in.”
Kendrick capped his first four-hit game of the season with an RBI double in the eighth against Alexi Ogando. Joe Smith got three outs for his third save in as many chances since replacing Frieri in the closer’s role.
“Their bullpen did a good job and we couldn’t get anything going against them,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “Richards had terrific stuff. His ball was running all over the place. We did a good job of making him put the ball in the zone and hit some balls hard but they made some good defensive plays.”
Choo is hitting .337 with three homers and 10 RBIs through the first 30 games.
“He came in today and got some treatment, so he feels better,” Washington said. “But it probably will linger. I mean, we’re talking about his ankle. So as long as he’s playing, I can’t see how he’s going to get it one hundred percent well. But he can perform with it, so we’ll see.”
Harrison made his second start of the season for the Rangers, allowing three runs and 10 hits in 4 1-3 innings. The left-hander, was pitching on five days’ rest – a combination of Thursday’s off day and the team’s desire to keep his turn in the rotation from coming up during next week’s interleague series at Colorado.
Harrison, who signed a five-year, $55 million contract after winning 18 games in 2012, was sidelined for more than a year because of back problems after losing to the Angels in his second start of 2013.
Richards (3-0) allowed three runs and nine hits over six innings with two walks and a career-high nine strikeouts after three straight no-decisions.
For the second straight night, the Rangers spotted the Angels a 2-0 lead before pulling ahead 3-2. Prince Fielder led off the fourth with a single and scored on a fielder’s choice grounder by Mitch Moreland. Chirinos and Choo drove in the tying and go-ahead runs with two-out RBI singles.
The Angels added a run in the third on a fielder’s choice grounder by Aybar, after Kendrick’s infield single and a drive to right-center by Cron that bounced out of center fielder Leonys Martin’s glove as he ran full-speed toward the warning track.
NOTES: Adrian Beltre has only three RBIs in his last 50 at-bats and none in his last 28. The Rangers’ third baseman, still looking for his first home run, has played eight games since coming off the DL. … After walking his first batter of the game, Richards struck out Andrus, Beltre and Fielder in succession.