A.J. Alexy looks to find footing again as Rangers host Angels

MLB

A.J. Alexy of the Texas Rangers and Packy Naughton of the Los Angeles Angels are emblematic of their teams’ overall performance this season.

Both pitchers had impressive starts to their major league careers over the summer, but each has tailed off significantly of late.

Alexy and Naughton will look to find their footing again when they go head-to-head in the opener of a three-game series on Tuesday night in Arlington, Texas.

Alexy (2-1, 5.00 ERA) began his career by becoming the first pitcher in modern MLB history to pitch at least five shutout innings as a starter and allow two hits or fewer in each of his first two career appearances.

His second appearance came against the Angels on Sept. 6 in Anaheim, when he blanked them on one hit over six innings. The competition became stiffer in his next two outings, however, and the results didn’t go as well for the 6-foot-4 right-hander.

Alexy was tagged for six runs in 3 2/3 innings of relief in a 15-1 loss to the visiting Houston Astros on Sept. 13. He made his third start on Sept. 20 and surrendered four runs and six walks in 3 1/3 innings of a 4-3 loss at the New York Yankees.

Naughton (0-3, 5.23 ERA), a lefty, made his first MLB start on Sept. 1 and faced off against Yankees right-hander Gerrit Cole, a four-time All-Star. Naughton held his own in the 4-1 loss.

He then blanked the San Diego Padres over five innings in his next outing on Sept. 7. Unfortunately, the Angels did not score while Naughton was in the game, and he was not credited for the win in the 4-0 victory.

Naughton hasn’t been able to back up that performance, however, getting tagged for four runs in each of his past two starts while failing to go beyond four innings.

Naughton’s first month as an MLB starter has followed a similar path as Los Angeles this season.

The Angels (74-82) opened the season by winning six of their first eight games to match their best eight-game start in franchise history. They were back to .500 two weeks later, however, and have hovered around that mark for most of the season.

Los Angeles has dropped off that pace even more lately, losing eight of its past 10 games to guarantee a sixth straight losing season. Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani has been in Anaheim for the past three seasons, and he’s not interested in experiencing any more struggles.

“I really like the team, I love the fans and the atmosphere as a team, but more than that, I want to win,” Ohtani said. “That’s the biggest thing for me. I’ll leave it at that.”

The Rangers (57-99) beat the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday to guarantee they won’t break the club record for losses in a season.

Texas first baseman Nathaniel Lowe said he’d like to end the season on a high note.

“We’ve got a week left, and we can’t quit for one inning, regardless of who we’re playing, whether it’s a 100-win Giants team or a 100-loss Baltimore team,” he said.

–Field Level Media

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