Angels win 2-1 to prevent Rangers from clinching AL West

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ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) Mike Trout hit a leadoff triple in the ninth inning and scored on Albert Pujols‘ tiebreaking single, sending the wild card-contending Los Angeles Angels to a 2-1 win over Texas that kept the Rangers from clinching the AL West title Friday night.

Rangers closer Shawn Tolleson (6-4) appeared in his fourth consecutive game. Trout hit the second pitch deep into the right-center gap, then slid headfirst into third base before emphatically pumping his right arm toward his teammates in the dugout.

Pujols followed with a soft single to left field on the next pitch.

Texas went into Friday already assured a playoff spot, but able to secure the division title with a win over the Angels or a loss by second-place Houston.

Already assured a playoff spot, Texas went into Friday needing a win over the Angels or a loss by second-place Houston to secure the division title. The Astros were playing in Arizona later Friday night, and were up 6-1 in the fourth inning when the Rangers finished their game.

Los Angeles began the day tied with Minnesota and a game behind Houston in the race for the second AL wild card. The Twins lost at home to AL Central champion Kansas City, dropping a game behind the Angels.

The Angels have won eight of their last 10 games, but their 5-3 loss Thursday in the opener of the four-game series assured Texas a playoff spot.

Mike Morin (4-2), the fourth Angels pitcher, retired the only batter he faced when Adrian Beltre grounded out to end the eighth.

Joe Smith worked a perfect ninth for his fourth save, including a strikeout of slugger Josh Hamilton, who was traded from Los Angeles back to Texas in April. Smith had faced only batter since a foot injury Sept. 17 before taking over in the ninth.

Shin-Soo Choo matched his career high with his 22nd homer leading off the Texas fourth to tie the game at 1. Choo is batting .413 (33 of 80) over his last 21 games to raise his batting average from .253 to .276, and has reached base in 51 of his last 53 games.

There was also a nice defensive play by Choo, who caught Trout’s slicing fly to right while running into the right-field corner to start the sixth.

Erick Aybar singled on the first pitch of the game, advancing on Pujols’ single before scoring on C.J. Cron‘s hit for a 1-0 lead off Rangers left-hander Martin Perez.

But Perez then retired 19 of the last 21 batters he faced, issuing a two-out walk to Trout in the third and allowing a two-out single to Aybar in the fifth. Perez’s 100th and final pitch was a groundout by Carlos Perez to end the seventh.

Aybar, the Angels shortstop, had errors on consecutive plays in the sixth to allow Elvis Andrus and Rougned Odor to reach with one out. But Chris Jimenez struck out before a flyout by Delino DeShields ended the inning.

Jered Weaver, making his 20th career start at Texas, allowed two hits over six innings. The right-hander struck out two and walked three.

UP NEXT

Angels: Still in position for a playoff spot, left-hander Hector Santiago (9-9) takes the mound for the Angels. He is 3-0 with a 1.48 ERA in five starts this season against Texas.

Rangers: Right-hander Colby Lewis tries to increase his career high to 18 wins when he makes his 33rd start of the season. He has already thrown more than 200 innings. The only other times he did were 2010 and 2011, the seasons of the Rangers’ only World Series appearances.

Ex-Angels employee charged in overdose death of Tyler Skaggs

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FORT WORTH, Texas — A former Angels employee has been charged with conspiracy to distribute fentanyl in connection with last year’s overdose death of Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs, prosecutors in Texas announced Friday.

Eric Prescott Kay was arrested in Fort Worth, Texas, and made his first appearance Friday in federal court, according to Erin Nealy Cox, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas. Kay was communications director for the Angels.

Skaggs was found dead in his hotel room in the Dallas area July 1, 2019, before the start of what was supposed to be a four-game series against the Texas Rangers. The first game was postponed before the teams played the final three games.

Skaggs died after choking on his vomit with a toxic mix of alcohol and the powerful painkillers fentanyl and oxycodone in his system, a coroner’s report said. Prosecutors accused Kay of providing the fentanyl to Skaggs and others, who were not named.

“Tyler Skaggs’s overdose – coming, as it did, in the midst of an ascendant baseball career – should be a wake-up call: No one is immune from this deadly drug, whether sold as a powder or hidden inside an innocuous-looking tablet,” Nealy Cox said.

If convicted, Kay faces up to 20 years in prison. Federal court records do not list an attorney representing him, and an attorney who previously spoke on his behalf did not immediately return a message seeking comment.