ARLINGTON, Texas — Drew Rucinski's spring training performance earned the 26-year-old Los Angeles Angels rookie his first major league start Tuesday night.
But he struggled greatly over 2 2-3 innings in an 8-2 loss to the Texas Rangers and is headed to Triple-A Salt Lake.
Rucinski gave up four runs, six hits and four walks, throwing 77 pitches. The undrafted right-hander labored through a 40-pitch second inning that also included two wild pitches and two of the Rangers' three stolen bases in the first two innings.
"Drew just never got on track," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "I don't think he brought his best game out there on the mound, and he's a better pitcher than that."
Rucinski, who opened the season with two innings of scoreless relief Saturday against Kansas City, agreed with Scioscia's assessment that he wasn't nervous. Optioned to the minors after the game, Rucinski said he's prepared to prove that he belongs in the majors.
"I can compete with guys here," he said. "Obviously, I didn't show that well tonight, but I just have to keep doing what I do."
He wasn't helped by outfield miscommunication that turned a deep fly to left-center by Texas No. 9 hitter Robinson Chirinos into a two-run double in the three-run second inning. Centerfielder Mike Trout and new leftfielder Matt Joyce, acquired last winter from Tampa Bay, nearly collided just short of the warning track, and the ball dropped between them.
"I thought we were going to run into each other, so I just backed up a little bit," Trout said. "We didn't get to play together that much in the spring because he (Joyce) was banged up. We'll get it straightened out."
Chirinos later added a three-run home run for a career-high five RBIs. Elvis Andrus also homered for Texas. He had not homered in 481 at-bats since connecting last May 21 against Seattle's Chris Young, the longest active homerless streak in the majors.
Rangers starter Nick Martinez (2-0) allowed one run — unearned — and five hits in seven innings. He began his season shutting out Oakland over seven innings on four hits.
"I can't say enough how in control of himself he is out on the mound," first-year Texas manager Jeff Banister said.
Trout needed to see only one pitch from Martinez in the first inning to double in the gap in left-center and extend his hitting streak to all eight Angels games. He nearly hit his 100th home run in the seventh, sending Carlos Peguero to the wall in left-center.
Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel, the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner from Texas A&M attended the game. He recently completed time in a drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility. . After the game, the Angels optioned Rucinski to Triple-A Salt Lake, and the Rangers sent right-hander Phil Klein to Triple-A Round Rock.
Angels: RF Kole Calhoun (calf) was available to pinch hit but missed his third consecutive start. RHP Garrett Richards (knee) made a rehab start Tuesday night for Triple-A Salt Lake and, according to Los Angeles manager Mike Scioscia, might start for the Angels on Sunday.
Rangers: RHP Kyuji Fujikawa (groin) allowed one earned run while pitching one inning Tuesday in a rehab appearance for Double-A Frisco.
Angels: Albert Pujols figures to be a DH for Wednesday afternoon's series finale after seeing action at first base in each of Los Angeles' first eight games. LHP Hector Santiago (0-1) is 3-0 in career starts in Arlington.