ARLINGTON, Texas — Maybe the Texas Rangers are trying to savor what they hope is a drive to their third straight American League West title.
They are certainly taking their own sweet time to get there.
Texas failed on its chance to clinch a playoff spot Friday or trim another game off its magic number, as the Los Angeles Angels dropped Texas, 7-4.
The Rangers are now 2-3 on their final homestand of the season, and their magic number to clinch the West is stuck at three with five games left in the season. It hasn’t helped the Rangers that their last two series have come against Oakland and Los Angeles, two teams that are also in the playoff hunt. Oakland beat Seattle Friday to cut the Texas lead in the West to three games.
What’s happening around the Rangers, who are 3-5 in their last eight games, doesn’t concern them. Finishing the regular season strong is what they’re trying to do, no matter how long it’s going to take.
“We’re not taking anything for granted,” said outfielder David Murphy, who went 0-for-4 and is now 1-for-16 on the homestand. “We’re just going to take them one day at a time, come out and play hard, keep fighting and keep trying to rack up wins.”
The Rangers’ shot at racking up win No. 93 was made difficult by the pitching of Los Angeles ace Jered Weaver and the Angels’ ability to hit against Ryan Dempster.
Dempster allowed four runs in 5 2/3 innings and is now 0-2 with an 11.20 ERA in his three starts vs. the Angels since he was acquired in July.
Weaver (20-4) doesn’t usually need much run support but he got it early against Dempster, as Mike Trout led off the game with a homer. Dempster allowed another homer to Chris Iannetta in the third inning and RBI doubles to Mark Trumbo in the fourth and sixth innings, with both of them coming with two outs.
“I missed a couple of spots,” Dempster said. “The solo homers don’t beat you. I’ve got to make better pitches with two outs, especially righty on righty (vs. Trumbo). Trumbo hit two doubles that scored runs, and that was the difference in the ballgame really. Solo homers don’t beat you. It’s those runs with two outs.”
Texas manager Ron Washington had no problems with Dempster’s outing.
“I thought he was attacking,” Washington said. “I didn’t see him get as many balls up as he had in the past. He actually kept us in the ballgame. Four runs. We weren’t worried about four runs. He left some breaking balls in some spots on Trumbo that he didn’t want to put there.”
While Washington wasn’t worried about the Angels scoring runs off Dempster, maybe he should have been with Weaver on the mound. He had allowed just six runs total in his last four starts coming into Friday, and his stinginess continued.
The Rangers managed just five hits off Weaver in seven innings. They did hit some balls hard, but only managed two runs off him. Nelson Cruz scored Josh Hamilton with a sacrifice fly in the fourth inning, and Cruz also led off the seventh with a solo homer.
That would be it, though, as the Rangers only had one inning with more than one hit against Weaver.
“Anaheim came in and jumped on us,” Washington said. “We fell behind, and we just couldn’t catch up. We were hitting him (Weaver) pretty good all night. He was just catching some luck. We felt good about facing Weaver tonight. I thought we hit some balls hard in some situations.”
While the Rangers were missing chances against Weaver, the Angels weren’t missing much against the Rangers. Los Angeles and blew the game open with three runs in the seventh off left-hander Robbie Ross to build a 7-1 lead.
The Rangers are without one key contributor in the bullpen, as Mike Adams is unavailable. Ross, who starred early in the season for Texas, has struggled recently. Ross has now allowed 11 runs in his last 16 2/3 innings.
The seventh took any hopes of a big comeback out of the equation for Texas, which scored twice in the eighth.