After a furious ninth-inning rally kept their postseason chances alive, the Los Angeles Angels are hoping things continue to fall their away on the final day of the regular season.
They may be taking some luck out of the equation by bringing back Garrett Richards on short rest against the Texas Rangers, who take another shot at clinching the AL West title.
Richards will try to help the visiting Angels reach the playoffs on Sunday when he looks to extend one of the majors’ longest winning streaks versus the Rangers over the past 43 years.
Los Angeles was on the brink of elimination Saturday when it trailed by four runs heading into the top of the ninth in Arlington. Instead, the club rallied off Texas closer Shawn Tolleson, who was pitching for the fifth straight day, en route to an improbable 11-10 victory.
Erick Aybar and Kole Calhoun homered before C.J. Cron, David Freese, Carlos Perez and Johnny Giavotella delivered consecutive two-out singles. According to MLB’s Twitter account, the Angels had lost 1,761 consecutive road games when trailing by four or more runs in the ninth.
Texas (87-74), which has already clinched a playoff berth, needs a victory or a Houston loss at Arizona on the final day of the regular season to win its first division title in four years. Otherwise, the Rangers will host the Astros on Monday with the AL West crown at stake and the loser to play in the wild-card game.
”I trust that we bounce back, just like we’ve bounced back all year long,” manager Jeff Banister said.
Los Angeles (85-76), meanwhile, needs a win and an Astros loss to force a tie for the second wild-card spot. The club would then travel to Houston for the tiebreaker contest on Monday.
”The only thing we can do is win it. We can’t control what Houston does,” center fielder Mike Trout said.
The Angels appear to be in good hands as they go after their 10th victory in 12 games, though Richards will have to work on three days’ rest for the first time since July 2013.
The right-hander has posted a 2.11 ERA while winning his last seven starts versus Texas. That’s tied for the second-longest run of winning starts against the Rangers since the franchise moved to Texas in 1972. It’s also the second-longest active streak against any one team.
Rougned Odor has gone 1 for 14 with seven strikeouts when facing Richards (15-11, 3.62 ERA). Former Angel outfielder Josh Hamilton is 1 for 9, but Mike Napoli has gone 5 for 9 with two home runs and Prince Fielder is 7 for 17 in the matchup.
Hamilton hit a pair of home runs and Odor added his 16th Saturday, while Adrian Beltre and Elvis Andrus had three hits apiece. Beltre has heated up, batting .424 in his last 21 games.
Although he’s won his last six decisions, Cole Hamels (6-1, 3.86) will try to bounce back after allowing six runs and seven hits over six innings in Tuesday’s 7-6 home win over Detroit. The left-hander had posted a 2.78 ERA over his previous eight outings – all Texas victories.
Hamels hasn’t faced Los Angeles since June 2008 when he was with Philadelphia. Albert Pujols has struggled against him, batting .174 with two homers in 23 at-bats dating to their time in the NL.
Pujols, however, is batting .400 with eight RBIs over a seven-game hitting streak in Arlington.