Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Rangers attempt to rebound vs. Angels

MLB

The Texas Rangers will host the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday in the second game of a three-game series in Arlington, Texas. The Rangers are trying to overcome a slow start to the season that sees them in last place in the American League West.

The Rangers, however, can feel good about their new starting shortstop, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, who has overcome a recent slump and has the look of someone who could be a mainstay in the lineup for years to come.

Kiner-Falefa won a Gold Glove at third base last season, but moved to shortstop this season to take over for the club’s long-time shortstop Elvis Andrus, who was traded to Oakland.

Kiner-Falefa, however, has played shortstop most of his life and feels comfortable there.

“I feel like I’m able to make plays that other guys can’t make,” Kiner-Falefa said. “Just having that opportunity to be out there, it’s exciting. I’m just visualizing games, so I feel like a big baby. It’s really helped me just enjoy where I’m at and just be in the moment. I think sometimes I take things for granted based on trying to produce. It’s really been a blessing, and it’s helping me to take my game to the next level.”

Kiner-Falefa has had his struggles at the plate, enduring an 0-for-19 slump that concluded with an 0-for-5 game against the Angels on April 19. But since then, he is 11-for-28, including going 1-for-4 in Monday’s 9-4 loss to the Angels. Overall, he’s hitting .258 with two homers, eight RBIs and a .648 OPS.

“I think he just got a couple of hits and he took a deep breath and had a little sigh of relief and said, ‘OK, I can still hit,’ ” Rangers manager Chris Woodward said of Kiner-Falefa breaking out of the slump. “He’s always in the at-bat. It doesn’t matter how hard you throw or what pitch you use. Honestly, he’ll give himself a chance.”

Right-hander Mike Foltynewicz will be on the mound for Texas, still looking for his first win of the season after going 0-3 with one no-decision in four starts. He faced the Angels in his last start, getting a no-decision after allowing three runs and seven hits in six innings last Wednesday in Anaheim.

Foltynewicz has 4.91 ERA in three outings — one start — against the Angels.

Jose Quintana will start for Los Angeles, also looking for his first win with his new club. He seemed to correct his problems from his first two starts by moving over to the first-base side of the pitching rubber — he allowed just one run and two hits in five innings last Wednesday against Texas, getting a no decision.

Quintana is 2-1 with a 3.18 ERA in eight career games — seven starts — versus Texas.

Angels third baseman Anthony Rendon returned to the lineup Monday and went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts and a walk after missing two weeks with a strained groin. Rendon, however, won’t be “eased” back into the lineup, meaning he’s expected to play again Tuesday.

“I’ve been told to just let him go,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “Right now, I’m anticipating him playing (Tuesday) and the next day.”

–Field Level Media

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