Angels host Rangers, continue pursuit of Twins (Sep 17, 2017)

ANAHEIM, Calif. — The schedule shows 14 games left for the Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Angels, including one more against each other Sunday afternoon at Angel Stadium.

The Angels put themselves in a much better spot to make the playoffs by winning the first two games of the series, moving them one game back of the Minnesota Twins for the second American League wild-card spot.

The Rangers have fallen five back by losing five in a row.

“These guys, they’re still in the fight,” Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. “This is a group that’s going to fight all the way to the end.”

Texas will turn to right-hander Miguel Gonzalez (7-11, 4.86 ERA) in the series finale.

Gonzalez is still looking to impress his new team after two ragged starts since he was acquired from the Chicago White Sox on Aug. 31. The Rangers were three games out of the second AL wild card when they made the trade.

Gonzalez dropped his most recent outing, allowing seven runs and seven hits in 2 1/3 innings of a 10-3 loss to the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday. He went three innings in his first start with Texas on Sept. 6, and is winless in his past four starts overall.

Gonzalez made his only appearance against the Angels on May 17 when he was with the White Sox, giving up five runs and six hits in 5 2/3 innings of a 12-8 loss in Anaheim.

Angels starter Garrett Richards (0-1, 1.38 ERA) will try to build off his last two starts since coming off a five-month absence because of biceps nerve irritation in his throwing arm.

He’ll try to follow in the footsteps of second-year right-hander Parker Bridwell, who shut the Rangers out for six innings in a 2-0 victory Saturday night.

“We need that more often,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said of Bridwell’s solid start. “We need to go out there and have guys that are starting games set the tone and get us to a certain point, let our offense get going.”

Richards went five innings and threw 63 pitches against the Houston Astros on Tuesday, allowing one run and four hits in the 1-0 loss. He pitched 3 1/3 innings and threw 52 pitches against the Oakland A’s in his return on Sept. 5.

Richards last pitched against the Rangers on May 1, 2016. He was pulled after four innings because of dehydration and cramping and a few days later it was learned he would need surgery to repair a torn ligament in his elbow.

Richards opted for stem-cell therapy and was sidelined the rest of the season.

He returned April 5 and was removed with two outs in the fifth while throwing a three-hit shutout against the A’s. He was out of action another five months.

Richards has performed better against the Rangers than any team in his career, owing a 9-3 mark and 3.13 ERA in 20 games (16 starts). His win total against Texas is four more than any other major league club.