Angels Keep Playoff Hopes Alive with 9th-inning Comeback

In what was perhaps the most exciting back and forth game of the 2015 season, the Angels were able to keep their playoff hopes alive with a come from behind, 11-10 victory over the Texas Rangers. The Angels currently sit just a half game back of the Houston Astros for the second wild card slot. They await the Astros result agains the Diamondbacks tonight. The Rangers, who have already clinched a guaranteed playoff spot, could have clinched the AL West with a victory on Saturday afternoon.

The scoring started inconspicuously enough with a solo home run by Josh Hamilton in the second inning against his former club off of Hector Santiago. The Angels would not answer until the fourth inning when David Murphy hit a bloop single off Colby Lewis, scoring Mike Trout to tie the game.

The game would be broken open by the Angels with a four run fifth inning to take a 5-1 lead. After a single by David Freese to lead off the frame, Carlos Perez doubled to center field to score Freese and give the Angels a 2-1 lead. Johnny Giavotella followed with a single to left to score Perez, making the score 3-1. After a single by Erick Aybar, Lewis was pulled from the game and replaced by Sam Freeman.

Freeman walked the first batter he faced in Kole Calhoun and was pulled for right hander Chi Chi Gonzalez. Gonzalez threw a wild pitch allowing the fourth Angels run to score before giving up a sacrifice fly to Trout for the fifth run. He then worked his way out of the inning with a double play ball hit by Murphy.

The Rangers would respond with four runs of their own in the bottom half of the fifth inning. After Elvis Andrus led off the inning with a walk and a stolen base, second baseman Rougned Odor singled, scoring Andrus. Robinson Chirinos would reach following an error by David Freese and Delino DeShields Jr. singled, scoring Odor for the third Texas run. Shin-Soo Choo reached on an error at second base by Aybar and Adrian Beltre followed with a two run single to tie the game at 5-5.

With the game tied at five going into the sixth inning, David Freese drew a one out walk before scoring on a two out double by Giavotella to give the Angels a 6-5 lead. The Rangers would respond in the bottom of the inning by loading the bases with only one out following two singles by Andrus and Chirinos and a walk to pinch hitter Mitch Moreland. Choo would follow with a two run single to give the Rangers a one run lead at 7-6 and Beltre would add one more with an RBI single of his own.

The Angels would go scoreless in the top of the seventh with the Rangers getting two more runs in the bottom of the seventh off two solo home runs by Hamilton and Odor to expand the lead to 10-6 going into the 8th. Both teams went scoreless in the 8th, setting up the Rangers with a four run lead and three outs to get to clinch the AL West.

With a four run lead, the Rangers brought in closer Shawn Tolleson to shut the door. On the fourth pitch of the at bat to leadoff hitter Erick Aybar, he hit a solo home run to right field to cut the lead to 10-7. The next batter, Kole Calhoun, followed with another solo home run to right field on the first pitch of the at bat to cut the lead to 10-8. With their backs once again up against the wall, Rangers’ skipper Jeff Banister pulled Tolleson in favor of veteran Ross Ohlendorf.

After getting Trout to ground out to short, Albert Pujols reached second on a bloop to right field that was poorly fielded by second baseman Rougned Odor and first baseman Mike Napoli. David Murphy followed with a strikeout, making the Rangers one out away from clinching the AL West. That is when the wheels really came off for the Rangers.

After a two out RBI single by C.J. Cron cut the lead to 10-9, David Freese followed with another single giving the Angels runners at the corners with two outs. Carlos Perez, who was down to his last strike, followed with a broken bat bloop into left center which tied the game for the Angels. Giavotella came up next and after a long at bat, singled to center to give the Angels the lead back at 11-10. Ohlendorf would be pulled from the game and Andrew Faulkner would come in to get the final out to send the game to the bottom of the 9th.

After two quick outs to start off the bottom of the 9th for Angels reliever Joe Smith, Andrus singled to center, giving the Rangers hope for another comeback. On the first pitch of the next at bat, Andrus was thrown out trying to steal second after both his hand and foot slid past the second base bag, ending the game and keeping the Angels playoff hopes alive. 

The Angels still need at least one Houston Astros loss over the last two games, and a win for themselves Sunday afternoon, but for now the Angels have kept their wild card hopes alive and the Rangers will have to wait for a Houston loss or a win themselves tomorrow in order to clinch the AL West crown.

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