Angels stage stunning rally to prevent the Rangers from clinching the AL West

AP Photo/Jae C. Hong
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On the strength of a stunning five-inning rally in the top of the ninth inning, the Angels beat the Rangers 11-10 this afternoon in Arlington. The Rangers had a chance to clinch the AL West with a victory, but now the wait continues.

It was a wild one. The Angels grabbed an early 5-1 lead against Colby Lewis, but the Rangers battled right back to tie it in the bottom of the fifth inning. Johnny Giavotella put the Angels back in front with an RBI double in the top of the sixth, but the Rangers scored two in the bottom of the inning to move ahead. Josh Hamilton and Rougned Odor each homered off Mat Latos in the seventh to give the Rangers a 10-6 lead and it appeared that the march to the AL West title was on. Until it wasn’t.

Working for the fifth straight day, Shawn Tolleson was tasked with getting the final three outs. However, he failed to retire a batter, giving up back-to-back homers to Erick Aybar and Kole Calhoun to begin the frame. Rangers manager Jeff Banister then turned to Ross Ohlendorf, who got Mike Trout to ground out to shortstop before Albert Pujols reached on a pop-up which couldn’t be handled by Mike Napoli and Odor. Pujols hustled all the way and made it to second base. Ohlendorf struck out David Murphy for the second out, but C.J. Cron followed with an RBI single to bring the Angels within one run. David Freese followed with a single before Carlos Perez singled in pinch-runner Collin Cowgill to tie the game. Giavotella then singled to bring in the go-ahead run. Andrew Faulkner replaced Ohlendorf from there and finally managed to get the Rangers out of the nightmare inning.

Joe Smith, pitching in place of injured closer Huston Street, notched the save for the Angels. Of course, it happened in an unconventional way, as Elvis Andrus reached on a two-out single and overslid second base on a stolen base attempt for the final out of the ballgame. Ouch. By the way, today’s winning pitcher was Jo-Jo Reyes, who threw just one pitch to get out of the bottom of the eighth inning. The win was his first since 2011.

The Rangers hold a 1.5 game lead in the AL West, but that could be trimmed to just one game if the Astros beat the Diamondbacks tonight. The Angels are half-game back of the Astros for the second Wild Card spot and the two clubs could be tied if Arizona wins tonight. There’s plenty of drama remaining between these three teams.