By: Richard W. Humphrey
ARLINGTON, Texas – The Los Angeles Angels took two of three from Texas this weekend to move past Oakland into first place in the American League West. Oakland has held first place alone since April, but L. A. moved percentage points ahead with a win on Saturday, and both teams lost on Sunday. The two teams will play each other 10 more times this year.
Sunday afternoon the Angels took a 2-1 lead into the ninth inning, but closer Huston Street, pitching on the third consecutive day, was unable to retire a batter as he gave up two runs and was charged with a blown save and the loss. Street is now 1-1 on the year. The blown save was his first as an Angel and just his second this year.
Texas avoided the sweep on a fine pitching effort from starter Nick Tepesch. He gave up the two Angel runs on six hits over six innings. The two runs scored in the second inning, when the Angels pieced together four hits to push across the only runs they would score on the day. Shawn Tolleson, Neal Cotts and Neftali Feliz finished the game with Feliz (1-1) earning the win. Tolleson and Cotts combined to strike out the side in a dramatic eighth inning after L. A. loaded the bases with no outs.
Adam Rosales had the walk-off hit in the ninth inning to drive in the winning run. Texas was 2-5 this week on the current home stand, and Rosales drove in the winning run with a bases loaded walk in the 14th inning of the other Ranger win.
The Angels were in position to sweep Sunday after winning the first two games each by the score of 5-4. In Friday’s series opener, Nick Martinez turned in six innings, allowing four runs on four hits. The big blow for the Angels was a three run home run off the bat of Cole Calhoun in the sixth inning that snapped a 1-1 tie. Tolleson gave up what proved to be the deciding run in the seventh inning that extended the Angels lead to 5-1. Texas rallied for three runs in the eighth to pull within one, but Street needed 15 pitches to put out the fire with a perfect ninth inning.
Garrett Richards (13-4), the Angels emerging ace, pitched into the eighth inning allowing two runs on seven hits for the win. Martinez’s record fell to 2-9 with the loss.
On Saturday, Colby Lewis turned in a strange pitching line. Five of the first 10 batters he faced got base hits, three of which were for extra bases and drove in runs. He gave up two more runs in the fourth inning for a total of five allowed, all earned, over six innings. The Angels tagged him for 10 hits; but on the other hand, he struck out a season high 10 batters and didn’t walk a batter. It was the 11th time in his career to reach a double-digit strikeout total.
After getting down 5-0, Texas came back with a pair of fourth inning runs on a lead-off home run from Sin-Shoo Choo, his 13th, and a run scoring single from J. P. Arencibia. Relievers Phil Klein, Neal Cotts and Roman Mendez retired all three batters each faced over the final three innings to hold the Angels to five on the night. Alex Rios singled home two more runs for Texas in the seventh to draw within one. That was it for scoring as Joe Smith pitched a perfect eighth and Street pitched a perfect ninth to complete the 5-4 Angels win that moved them past Oakland into first place.
Lewis fell to 8-10 with the loss. Matt Shoemaker (11-4) was the winning pitcher, and Street earned his 33rd save.
Texas fell to 48-76 with the series loss. They are slightly ahead of Colorado (48-75) for the dubious honor of worst record in baseball. The dream of catching Houston for fourth place in the division continues to fade as the Astros are now 3.5 games ahead, three in the loss column. Texas has 38 games remaining in the season.
The Rangers intend to go with four starting pitchers over the next week as there are two off days. Texas is off on Monday, then travels to Miami for two with the Marlins. The Rangers and Marlins split two games in Arlington earlier this year. The announced pitchers for the games are Miles Mikolas (1-5) on Tuesday night and Nick Martinez (2-9) on Wednesday afternoon. Both games will be televised locally on Fox Sports Southwest. Texas is off again on Thursday before opening a brief three game home stand next weekend.
ROSTER MOVES: Robbie Ross was optioned to Round Rock a day after taking Yu Darvish’s start on Thursday, and reliever Jon Edwards had his contract purchased from the same club.
* The Angels have won the season series with Texas as they lead 10-3 with six games remaining. Sunday’s win ended an Angels’ winning streak of nine straight games against Texas and ended a four game losing streak since beating Tampa Bay last Tuesday. The Rangers are now 12-25-3 in series this year and are 10-19 since the All-Star break.
* Colby Lewis’s game on Saturday was the 18th time in Rangers’ history that a pitcher had a double-digit strikeout total without walking a batter. However, it was the first game of the 18 that the Rangers lost.
* Joey Gallo hit his 19th home run for Frisco Sunday, which was his 40th of the season to pull within one of the Ranger minor league record.