"It's early in the season, and we're not trying to make a statement. They were better than us in this series," Angels starter Jered Weaver said following a 3-0 Rangers triumph on Sunday at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
For three days, the Rangers showed they're vastly improved, especially with their defense and their pitching. The offense is always there, a ticking bomb.
Outfielder Marlon Byrd talked coming in about the weekend set being a big statement series for the Rangers, and Texas walked the walk.
"Regardless of what anybody said, you're here to play the game," said Angels second baseman Howard Kendrick, who was robbed of extra bases by center fielder Josh Hamilton on a game-altering play in the seventh inning. "We're just going to go out and play our style of baseball.
"They played baseball. They played hard and beat us. They can play. They've got really good hitters, and their pitching is there. It's going to be a tough division this year, and we're looking forward to competing with those guys."
The Rangers' seventh consecutive win, saved by former Angels reliever Darren O'Day with four outs of perfect relief, extended Texas' lead to 4 1/2 games in the American League West over the reigning division champions from Anaheim.
"That was fun," said O'Day, claimed by the Mets in December as a Rule 5 acquisition for $50,000 and then removed from their 40-man roster. Texas put in a claim, and O'Day, the side-winder from Florida who appeared in 30 games for the Angels last season, has flourished with his new club.
"To get my first [Major League] save against those guys, knowing them and how good they are," O'Day said, "that is really special. It's a great feeling, a big relief."
After holding the Rangers to one hit through six innings in a scoreless duel with Scott Feldman, Weaver yielded a leadoff double in the seventh to Hank Blalock, who took third on Nelson Cruz's single and scored on David Murphy's sacrifice fly to right field.
Omar Vizquel opened the eighth with a triple over Bobby Abreu's head in right and scored when Ian Kinsler doubled. The RBI was No. 32 for the Texas leadoff man, who leads his team in that department. Byrd's double scored Kinsler.
"In a ballpark like this against a lineup like that, you have to be on -- and he was," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "The one chance we had, on Howie's drive to right center field, Hamilton ran it down."
Banging into the wall at the 407-foot sign in right center to rob Kendrick of extra bases, Hamilton cost the Angels the lead in the seventh after Gary Matthews Jr. had singled with one out against reliever Jason Jennings (1-1 with the win).
"Gary was already around second when he made the catch," Kendrick said, "and I was thinking triple. When I hit it, I didn't think he had a chance.
"He made a heckuva play. He's been making big plays all series. Bobby [Abreu] hit two line drives in opposite gaps [on Saturday], and he ran both of them down. He's definitely playing his butt off."
Weaver (3-2 with the loss) was dominant through five innings, allowing one hit, a first-inning single by Michael Young, without a Ranger reaching scoring position.
"I felt good, located well," Weaver said. "[Catcher Jeff] Mathis and I were working well. We stuck with the game plan.
"Sometimes you win; sometimes you lose. You've got to tip your hat to the other pitching staff. They got runners in scoring position and were able to get some key hits. A couple [by Kinsler and Byrd] they were able to put down the lines."
The Angels' right-hander had a streak of 14 consecutive outs end with a pair of walks in the sixth, but Weaver quelled the disturbance by pounding the strike zone for three consecutive outs.
Feldman departed after six innings and 108 pitches, having scattered four hits with two walks while striking out three men.
The Angels threatened against Feldman in the fifth and sixth, leaving two runners stranded each time. Chone Figgins got as far as third in the sixth after his seventh hit of the series and a pair of steals, but was left there.
O'Day delivered a big out for the Rangers in the eighth after Abreu's two-out walk against Eddie Guardado. Torii Hunter, the club leader in homers and RBIs, tapped back to the mound and O'Day threw him out to end the inning.
O'Day finished off the Angels with a perfect ninth, striking out Morales and Matthews.
While the Angels' bullpen has experienced severe ups and downs, O'Day has flourished, yielding two earned runs across 8 2/3 innings while striking out nine and walking only one man.
"I know it's been a rough year for them, losing Nick [Adenhart], who was such a great guy," said O'Day, Adenhart's teammate last season in Triple-A Salt Lake. "I'm just glad to be here, and things are going well."
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less