Fri Sep 18 4:07am ET
Jared Walsh might just be the best thing that happened to the Los Angeles Angels in 2020.
The rookie first baseman has scored a run and driven in a run in a team-record nine consecutive games. The last major-league player to accomplish that feat in 10 straight games was Bobby Abreu of the Philadelphia Phillies in 2005, who is tied for the majors' third-longest streak all-time with Hall of Famer Lou Gehrig of the New York Yankees in 1930.
Walsh will likely get an opportunity to make it 10 in a row when the Angels open a four-game series against the visiting Texas Rangers on Friday night in Anaheim, Calif.
"That's pretty impressive," Angels manager Joe Maddon said of the streak. "The thing that he's doing is that he's not trying to eat the whole meal every at-bat. That's pretty impressive, a run and an RBI for nine consecutive games. Rookie or no rookie, that's pretty impressive."
Walsh, a left-handed hitter, has gone up against a left-handed starter in each of the past three games. While the Angels (21-30) technically won't face a fourth in a row on Friday, they expect to see a rookie southpaw early on.
Right-hander Jimmy Herget (0-0, 3.45 ERA) is slated for his first career appearance as an "opener" with rookie left-hander Wes Benjamin expected to follow on the mound for Texas (18-32).
Benjamin (1-0, 4.38) has made five relief appearances since he was added to the active roster in mid-August. He's replacing fellow left-hander Kolby Allard, a San Clemente native whose ERA had ballooned to 8.80 after eight starts totaling 29 2/3 innings.
Benjamin's first four relief appearances came after the Rangers had already fallen behind, but he had a chance to protect a lead when he came out of the bullpen for his most recent outing, allowing him to notch his first big league win.
He entered in the second inning of Game 1 of a doubleheader on Saturday against the visiting Oakland A's, replacing opener Nick Goody after Texas had scored five runs in the first. Benjamin limited the A's to two runs and three hits over four innings, earning the win in the 5-2 victory.
Rangers manager Chris Woodward likes the mix of confidence and execution he has seen in Benjamin this season, leading to his opportunity against the Angels.
"This kid has a ton of belief in himself and executes his pitches, and you see the quality," Woodward said. "He gets a lot of weird swings. He uses all parts of the plate and he executes pitches. You see the conviction."
The Angels will counter with Jaime Barria (0-0, 3.38), who has pitched well in his five appearances this season, including three starts, but remains in search of his first win since July 24, 2019 against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Barria is 0-7 since then, but Maddon sees enough positives to continue sticking with the 24-year-old right-hander.
"He competes," Maddon said. "He's a pitcher. He's not just out there throwing rocks. I love the way he goes about it."
Barria has also had more success against Texas than any other team. He earned his first major-league win against the Rangers on April 11, 2018, and is 4-2 in his career against the Rangers with a 3.23 ERA.
He last faced Texas on Aug. 20 of last season, holding the Rangers to two runs and five hits over five innings in the 3-2 loss in 11 innings.
--Field Level Media