Mike Trout On His Ninth Inning Triple And The Angels Chances On Making The Playoffs
The champagne was there. You could feel it.
But so were the Angels. And the thunder that is Mike Trout. And the low-level seismic offerings of Jered Weaver.
Add it all up, and the Texas Rangers went home thirsty Friday night. Their magic number remains one. Their expectations are still dialed up to 11.
Lunch with the Angels commences Saturday at 12:05 p.m.
“It’s baseball,” Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said after his team dropped a 2-1 decision.
From the second through the eighth innings Friday, he had seen Rangers pitchers hold the Los Angeles lineup to one hit.
But Trout led off the ninth against Shawn Tolleson with a triple off the bullpen wall, and Albert Pujols dropped a single into center field to score the decisive run.
Starter Martin Perez’s seven-inning, one-run effort for the home team went for naught.
“I thought he was tremendous,” Daniels said. “The guy is  years old, and it’s his first year back from surgery.”
While Perez was dealing his way through the Angels lineup, however, the Rangers were being tied into flustering knots by Weaver. No longer blessed with dominating velocity, the right-hander now paints a patient canvas.
You could time a lot of his pitches Friday not with a radar gun, but the old-fashioned way — one Mississippi, two Mississippi, etc.
We couldn’t quite stay back enough to get the barrel on it.
Manager Jeff Banister on Weaver’s pitching
“We couldn’t quite stay back enough to get the barrel on it,” Rangers manager Jeff Banister assessed.
Chris Gimenez and Josh Hamilton both sent long fly balls to the center-field warning track, where they were chased down by Trout. But only Shin-Soo Choo seemed to figure out what Weaver was dealing. Choo homered in the fourth inning and doubled in the sixth.
And that was it. The Rangers went hitless with men in scoring position.
In an effort to keep the game tied, meanwhile, Banister elected to use relievers Sam Dyson and Tolleson each for the fourth day in a row. Dyson proved to be perfect; Tolleson not as much.
The Rangers have champagne-celebrated division titles at home on three occasions — 1996, 1999 and 2011.
It was a legitimate second-guess to ask Banister later why he chose to use arguably his two best bullpen arms for a fourth time. But the manager chose to turn a cold eye on the question.
“Look,” he said. “At this time of the year, our guys are going to pitch. They’ll go out there and respond.”
It was one of the rare times in recent weeks that Banister has rolled the manager dice and lost.
“He’s been our guy,” Banister said of Tolleson, the team’s closer.
17 Starter Colby Lewis’ win total
With two chances Friday to settle the American League West race, the Rangers were denied twice. The second-place Houston Astros also cruised at Arizona, and the Rangers’ magic number remained at one.
Banister will now have to send 17-game winner Colby Lewis to the mound Saturday to finish Friday’s business.
We knew coming in that it was going to be a tough series.
Banister, with third game coming Saturday
“No,” said Banister, when asked whether Friday’s defeat was a setback. “We’ve got two games to continue to play hard.
“I felt like we played well tonight. We had some opportunities but were only able to manage the home run.
“We knew coming in that it was going to be a tough series.”
Their next date with the Angels — their next chance to clinch the AL West title — will come soon enough Saturday.
Lunch. A champagne lunch?
Angels at Rangers
12:05 p.m. today, KDFW/4