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.

Maddon: Shohei Ohtani won’t pitch again for Angels this year

Shohei Ohtani
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Shohei Ohtani won’t pitch again this season for the Los Angeles Angels after straining his right forearm in his second start, manager Joe Maddon says.

Ohtani likely will return to the Angels’ lineup as their designated hitter this week, Maddon said Tuesday night before the club opened a road series against the Seattle Mariners.

The Angels’ stance on Ohtani is unsurprising after the club announced he had strained the flexor pronator mass near the elbow of his pitching arm. The two-way star’s recovery from the strain requires him to abstain from throwing for four to six weeks, which covers most of the shortened 2020 season.

“I’m not anticipating him pitching at all this year,” Maddon said. “Any kind of throwing program is going to be very conservative.”

Ohtani was injured Sunday in the second inning of his second start since returning to the mound following Tommy John surgery in late 2018. Ohtani issued five walks during the 42-pitch inning against the Houston Astros, with his velocity dropping later in the frame.

The arm injury is another obstacle in Ohtani’s path to becoming the majors’ first true two-way player in decades. He made 10 mound starts as a rookie in 2018 before injuring his elbow, but he served as the Angels’ regular designated hitter last season while recovering from Tommy John surgery.

Ohtani has pitched in only three games since June 2018, but the Angels still believe in Ohtani’s ability to be a two-way player, Maddon said.

“I’m seeing that he can,” Maddon said. “We’ve just got to get past the arm maladies and figure that out. But I’ve seen it. He’s just such a high-end arm, and we’ve seen what he can do in the batter’s box. Now maybe it might get to the point where he may choose to do one thing over the other and express that to us. I know he likes to hit. In my mind’s eye, he’s still going to be able to do this.”

The veteran manager believes Ohtani will benefit from a full spring training and a normal season. Ohtani wasn’t throwing at full strength for a starter when the coronavirus pandemic shut down spring training in March because he wasn’t expected to pitch until May as he returned from surgery.

“Going into a regular season with a normal number of starts and all the things that permit guys to be ready for a year, that’s what we need to see is some normalcy before you make that kind of determination,” Maddon said.

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