ARLINGTON, Texas — The Los Angeles Angels won’t have much time to try and figure out how to get something going against the Texas bullpen.
Friday night the Angels had absolutely nothing for the Texas relievers.
The Angels were hitless over the final 3 2/3 innings against the Texas bullpen and struck out six times in that span as the Rangers won their fifth-straight game 5-3 over the Angels.
Texas still trails by one game in the American League wild-card hunt, but it now trails both Cleveland and Tampa Bay by one game with two remaining as the Rays were beaten by Toronto Friday.
“I attribute that to fighting for your life,” Texas manager Ron Washington said of his bullpen’s success. “They all came in and did what they had to do to execute pitches. They had to execute pitches against that lineup and they certainly did. They didn’t give up a hit from the fifth inning on. That’s quite a feat against that lineup because they’ve been tearing the cover off the baseball.”
The Angels had three runs and eight hits off Alexi Ogando in his 5 1/3 innings. But after Ogando exited, Jason Frasor came on and started the string of futility for the Angels.
By the time Joe Nathan collected his 42nd save with his seven pitch ninth inning, three of the four Texas relievers had collected two strikeouts apiece and the Rangers had broken the 3-3 tie with two runs in the seventh inning.
Frasor, Neal Cotts, Tanner Scheppers and Nathan were efficient too, needed 44 pitches combined to get the final 11 outs and throwing 34 of those for strikes.
While Washington has leaned on the four down the stretch, no one is complaining.
“Given the situation and the intensity of the games, it doesn’t matter if you’re tired or not,” said Cotts, whose perfect seventh earned him his seventh win. “You’re pumped up to get out there. It brings out the intensity of the game in the situations we’re in. It’s down to the wire and we need wins. You still go out there with the same goal, get the ball to Joe with the lead somehow.”
The Rangers did that by getting to the Los Angeles bullpen after getting former Texas All-Star C.J. Wilson out the game after six innings of three-run ball.
Texas broke the tie in the seventh thanks to some help from the Angels. Ian Kinsler walked and went to second on a bad pickoff throw by Juan Gutierrez. After Elvis Andrus bunted Kinsler to third, Alex Rios scored him with an RBI single.
Rios then stole second and scored from there on an A.J. Pierzynski infield single.
The runs manufactured in the seventh typified the game for the Rangers. Texas had seven hits, all singles, but also stole three bases, took advantage of six Los Angeles walks, three wild pitches from Wilson and two hit batters.
It wasn’t a pretty night offensively but it was an effective one.
“We ran the bases well tonight,” Washington said. “We did everything we wanted to do and we got the win.”
The bullpen was solid in relief of Ogando, who started strong but had to work out of hams in the second, third, fourth and fifth innings. Texas got him a 3-1 lead in the third thanks to a Wilson wild pitch and a hit batter, but he gave it back in the top of the fifth.
But by that time, he had done his job enough to get the game into the hands of the bullpen, which credited the offense for wearing down the Los Angeles pitchers.
“You saw how different the innings were, how long their innings took,” Nathan said. “Ours kind of went on a good rhythm. I think most guys try and feed off each other like that and try to get a nice rhythm with our bullpen.”