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

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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.

Report: Gerrit Cole has seven-year, $245 million offer from Yankees

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Bob Klapisch of The New York Times reports that free agent starter Gerrit Cole has a seven-year, $245 million contract offer on the table from the Yankees. As Klapisch also notes, the deal would set a record for total value and average annual value for a pitcher, besting Zack Greinke‘s $34.4 million AAV and David Price‘s $217 million total.

While it is possible that Cole signs before the end of the Winter Meetings on Thursday, clients of Scott Boras have tended to sign later in the offseason, so this may be a protracted process with today’s report as a jumping-off point. Both the Yankees’ and Angels’ front offices have received clearance from ownership to break the bank to sign Cole.

Cole, 29, could not have timed having a career year any better. During the regular season, he led all of baseball with 326 strikeouts and led the American League with a 2.50 ERA while also posting a 20-5 record and walking only 48 batters across 212 1/3 innings. He performed brilliantly in the playoffs as well, holding the opposition to seven runs on 21 hits and 11 walks with 47 strikeouts over 36 2/3 innings of work as the Astros narrowly missed out on winning another championship.

Cole is entering his age-29 season, so a deal of at least seven years would take him well into his mid-30’s. Teams, especially lately, have been hesitant to commit to pitchers, but as the Nationals showed with Max Scherzer and Patrick Corbin, sometimes it leads to a championship.

For what it’s worth, Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports says the Yankees haven’t made a formal offer to Cole yet, though the club plans to make one this week. During this time of year, both sides — front office personnel and player agents — leak details to the press to help establish leverage. What we can generally take from this is that the Yankees are hot for Cole and he’s going to get a record-setting contract from some team, even if it’s not the Yankees.