ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Shin-Soo Choo sat on opening day and wasn’t happy about not being in rookie Texas manager Chris Woodward’s first lineup.
The only All-Star for the Rangers in 2018 said he still thought of himself as an everyday player. The 36-year-old from South Korea has been showing it, too.
Choo delivered a tiebreaking two-run triple while reaching base his first three times from the leadoff spot, and the Rangers finished a three-game sweep of the Los Angeles Angels with a 5-4 victory Wednesday night.
“I think after that happened I think good for me, good for Woody,” said Choo, referring to a 30-minute conversation they had that day in late March. “You know each other better. So now we have more respect. Better communication.”
Texas closer Jose Leclerc earned his fifth save in six chances despite loading the bases with no outs with a two-run lead in the ninth, capped by hitting Mike Trout with a pitch.
The right-hander got a called third strike on Justin Bour that led to Bour’s ejection before an RBI fielder’s choice by Andrelton Simmons, who drove in two runs. Brian Goodwin was called out on a check swing strikeout to end the game.
“I know it was a ball and I’m not the type of person that’s going to make a scene like that,” Bour said. “I never have been thrown out of a game. It was a ball, plain and simple, just frustrated. Obviously, could have lost the game.”
Lance Lynn (2-1) won his second straight decision in the right-hander’s first season with Texas, allowing 10 baserunners (seven hits, three walks) but just two runs in 5 2/3 innings.
The Rangers swept the Angels in a series of at least three games for the first time since 2013 after LA won the last three of four in Anaheim two weekends ago. Texas has its first four-game winning streak since last July.
Choo’s go-ahead liner into the right field corner ended Matt Harvey’s night with one out in the fifth after the right-hander had allowed one unearned run on one hit through four innings. Choo is hitting .400 in 13 games since starting 1 for 10.
“He’s the most prepared, the most professional player I think I’ve ever been around,” Woodward said. “His success doesn’t surprise me after watching him all spring, after watching him do his work in the cage, do his work in the outfield, do his work during BP.”
Both losses for Harvey (0-2) in his first season with the Angels are against the Rangers. The former New York Mets star gave up five runs, four earned, and five hits in 4 1/3 innings after tying his career high by allowing eight runs — five in the first — in an 11-4 loss to Texas in his second LA start.
“This time it was the fifth, which is I guess progress from giving it up in the first,” said Harvey, whose ERA is at 9.64. “Just got to keep working and kind of dial in those first four innings and be able to get deeper into the game.”
Trout walked and singled and has reached base in all 15 games he has played, extending the longest season-opening streak of his career. The two-time AL MVP was the designated hitter for a third straight game, staying out of center field after missing three games with a left groin strain.
Tommy La Stella hit his fourth homer , a solo shot in the eighth, to get the Angels within two.
Simmons, Brian Goodwin and Jonathan Lucroy had three straight singles for a 1-0 LA lead in the second before Trout scored on Simmons’ double in the third.
After Choo scored on La Stella’s two-out error in the fourth, the Rangers got even in the fifth on consecutive singles from Asdrubal Cabrera, Logan Forsythe and Isiah Kiner-Falefa before Choo’s second triple of the season.
HOMER RUN ENDS
Joey Gallo, who homered in each of his first five games against the Angels, struck out his first three times before flying out to the edge of the warning track in right in the eighth.
Angels: RHP Chris Stratton (0-1, 5.54 ERA) is set to open a four-game series at home against Seattle and Felix Hernandez on Thursday. Stratton’s only decision was a 6-3 loss to the Mariners in his first start of the season.
Rangers: Already the second series at home the season against rival Houston starts Friday. LHP Drew Smyly (0-1, 7.15) made his Texas debut against the Astros on April 1, giving up a run on four hits in three innings in a no-decision.
More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/tag/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports