After a rare Joe Nathan blown save and a rough loss in the opener, the Rangers came back to beat the Angels 8-7 in the second game of Sunday’s doubleheader and clinch at least a wild card berth.
Mike Napoli again made some noise against his former team, homering twice and matching his career high with six RBI. He’s hit .396 with 12 homers, 10 doubles and 19 walks in 111 at-bats versus the Halos in two years as a member of the Rangers.
The Rangers’ outburst gave Derek Holland a win after he allowed seven runs in 6 2/3 innings. He became the fifth pitcher this season to give up seven runs in a win. One of the previous four was Ervin Santana, who took the loss for the Angels tonight. He gave up six runs in 2 2/3 innings to end the regular season 9-13 with a 5.16 ERA.
The result clinched postseason berths for the Orioles and Yankees (both 92-67), as the Angels (88-71) are no longer possibility to overtake either with three games remaining. The Angels also fell three back of the A’s (91-68) with three to play.
The Rangers (93-66) head to Oakland with a two-game lead in the AL West. The A’s must win only one of the three games to clinch a wild card berth and eliminate the Angels and Rays (88-71).
The Dodgers and Astros have selected their starters for Game 1 of the World Series. Left-hander Dallas Keuchel will open the series for the Astros, while fellow lefty Clayton Kershaw will take the mound for the first of two home games at Dodger Stadium.
Keuchel, 29, has been a steady presence for the Astros this postseason. He clinched Game 2 of the ALDS with 5 2/3 innings of one-run, seven-strikeout ball against the Red Sox and returned for his second postseason win with seven scoreless innings against the Yankees in Game 1 of the ALCS. He was outmatched in Game 5 of the Championship Series, however, scattering four runs and eight strikeouts across 4 2/3 innings while the Yankees worked their way up to a 5-0 shutout. Nevertheless, he’s perhaps the Astros’ strongest arm behind ALCS MVP Justin Verlander and has not surrendered a single home run in 17 1/3 consecutive innings this postseason.
Kershaw, on the other hand, has had a less consistent track record in the playoffs. While his postseason yips have been well-documented thus far, his struggles on the mound haven’t always led to disaster — at least not this time around. The Dodgers are 3-0 in all three of Kershaw’s starts this month and enjoyed a quality start from their ace during Game 5 of the NLCS last Thursday. The 29-year-old southpaw recorded his second win of the playoffs with a run, three hits, a walk and five strikeouts over six innings. Unlike Keuchel, he’s given up a home run in each of his outings to date (and four homers in Game 1 of the NLDS).
Game 1 is set for Tuesday evening at 8:00 PM ET. The Dodgers have home field advantage through Games 1 and 2 before the series moves to Houston, and will try to capitalize on that advantage in order to extend their postseason winning streak at Dodger Stadium. They’re 4-0 at home and 3-1 on the road this October, while the Astros boast a 6-0 advantage in Houston and a significantly less impressive 1-4 record away from home.