The Texas Rangers, as expected, activated right fielder Nomar Mazara from the 10-day disabled list on Thursday prior to their contest with the Los Angeles Angels, and Mazara immediately produced the spark he was expected to provide, pounding a two-run home run in his first at-bat.
It was Mazara's first homer since June 29 and helped the Rangers bounce back from a five-run first inning by the Los Angeles Angels on the way to an 8-6 Texas win.
The Angels will send right-hander Odrisamer Despaigne (2-0, 5.31 ERA) to the mound on Friday to try to even the series, while Texas will counter with left-hander Mike Minor (9-6, 4.61).
Mazara will be called on to be a run-producer in the middle of the Texas lineup, especially since third baseman Adrian Beltre was placed in the disabled list on Thursday after reaggravating a hamstring injury.
"Nomar is one of our guys in the core group, so it's nice to get him back," Texas manager Jeff Banister told MLB.com on Thursday afternoon. "It keeps everyone else in comfortable spots. He's a big player for us, and we need him on the field."
Mazara had been on the DL since July 20 with a right thumb sprain. He last played for the Rangers on July 14 against Baltimore. Prior to the injury, Mazara hit .272 with 15 home runs and 58 RBIs in 91 games.
"It was a long three weeks," he said. "I'm glad to be back out here."
Texas roared back from two runs down on Thursday in Game 1 of the series, scoring four runs in the eighth on a Joey Gallo double, a bases-loaded walk to Shin-Soo Choo, a single by Rougned Odor, and a wild pitch.
The Rangers turned a triple play in the game, the second in the major leagues this season and the first for Texas since the 2009 campaign.
The Angels used eight pitchers in the game, relying completely on their bullpen to help take up the slack for their injury-depleted starting staff.
Despaigne, who was acquired from the Marlins on Tuesday, will make his Angels debut and his first start in the majors since March 31. He will likely be limited to 75 to 80 pitches.
His only preious appearance against Texas was in 2015, when he pitched two innings of scoreless relief.
Despaigne will be the 14th pitcher to start for the Angels this season. He will replace the injured Nick Tropeano in the club's rotation.
"Despaigne's got a good arm," Angels manager Mike Scioscia told MLB.com. "He definitely has good movement. He has a good cutter, breaking ball, change. Good movement on his fastball. He kind of pitches off of that. He works off of soft contact. Hopefully he'll get in there and give us a chance to win tomorrow."
Minor will make his 23rd start of the season on Friday. He has gone 3-0 with a 3.42 ERA in his last four outings and has won three straight starts for the first time since winning five in a row from Sept. 16, 2012-April 10, 2013 with Atlanta.
Minor will be working on six days' rest, as he last worked and earned the win in the Rangers' 12-7 victory on Friday at New York. Minor has no record and a 5.68 ERA in three games (one start) in his career against the Angels.