Maybe Keone Kela would have retired C.J. Cron on Friday night had the rookie right-hander actually been at Angel Stadium instead of in transit from Arlington following a trip home to have his sore elbow examined.
Martin Perez did once, though not the two times that it mattered, and rookie Luke Jackson couldn’t get Cron out in the seventh inning in a spot where a healthy Kela would have faced the young slugger.
Based on Cron’s numbers this season against the Texas Rangers, it seems doubtful than anyone would have gotten him.
Cron wrecked the Rangers in the opener of a three-game series, driving in all five of the Los Angeles Angels’ runs, all with two outs, en route to a 5-2 victory that snapped the Rangers’ mini-two-game winning streak.
The loss, coupled with a Houston win, dropped the Rangers three games back in the American League West, but they stayed 1 ½ games up on Minnesota for the second wild card.
All Cron has done in 12 games this season against the Rangers is hit .460 (23 for 50) with 17 RBIs. The Angels are trail the Rangers by 2 ½ games despite being 9-4 against them this season.
“We’ve made mistakes against Cron, and he hasn’t missed them,” manager Jeff Banister said. “Other than that, we felt like we pitched everyone else well. But, yeah, it was C.J. Cron’s night.”
In a way it was Kela’s night, as his absence was felt in a 3-2 game in the seventh inning. Jackson was the choice, making his major league debut with Ross Ohlendorf also unavailable because of soreness in the back of right his shoulder.
The Rangers were pleased with how the right-hander pitched. Jackson threw hard, hitting 98 mph, and his breaking ball had good bite to it.
He retired TCU ex Taylor Featherston for the first out before Kole Calhoun singled into shallow right field, just beating an infield shift. Jackson walked Mike Trout before getting Albert Pujols on a flyout.
Cron was down in the count 0-2 to Jackson. After a fastball missed, Cron fouled off two breaking balls that Jackson could get as low as he wanted and drove a fastball to right-center field on the sixth pitch of the at-bat.
“I went out there and tried to execute my pitches, but it just didn’t go my way,” Jackson said. “We were calling breaking balls down, and I just couldn’t get it down. I tried to go fastball away, left it over the middle of the plate, and just got beat.”
Perez had been beat by a two-run Cron single in the third on changeup that stayed up and in the fifth on a double off a fastball that didn’t get far enough inside.
Perez, who said that he was dealing with some stomach issues after an off-day episode with food poisoning, allowed three runs on five hits in six innings.
“I just missed the zone with him,” Perez said. “He hit the ball well. That’s part of the game. If you don’t make your pitch, you don’t get outs.”
The Rangers aren’t overly concerned with Kela’s elbow, which came up sore Wednesday. An MRI exam showed no structural damage, and the Rangers will keep him out at least through the weekend.
Injuries happen, and teams need players to fill in capably when a player is out.
“It’s that time of year and some other guys have got to be able to step up in certain situations,” Banister said. “He’s got to be able to pitch in those situations. That’s why we’ve got him up here.”