The Texas Rangers are catching breaks and taking care of their own business as well in a pursuit for a postseason spot.
The Rangers will try to remain in the hunt Saturday afternoon in the continuation of a four-game series versus the LA Angels of Anaheim at the Ballpark in Arlington. Saturday's game was originally scheduled for 7:05 p.m. CT, but a threat of inclement weather forced officials to move the start time of the third portion of this set.
"With the possibility of heavy rain affecting Saturday night's game, we feel it is prudent to start earlier in the day," said Rangers CEO Nolan Ryan in a statement Friday. "We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause for our fans, but we believe this is the best alternative given the circumstances and the fact it is the last weekend of the regular season."
Texas won its fifth straight game Friday by recording a 5-3 decision over the Angels and used a big seventh inning to stay on top for good. Alex Rios and A.J. Pierzynski both came through with RBI singles in the frame and finished with two RBI apiece. The Rangers are one game behind Cleveland and Tampa Bay for the AL wild card lead. They went 1-5 against the Indians this season, but took four of seven meetings with the Rays.
"We're excited to be where we are. We still have a chance. It would be different if we did, but all you can do is stay focused. We're playing a very good ballclub and we have to keep our game elevated. If not we'll be looking in," said Rangers manager Ron Washington.
Neal Cotts picked up the win with a scoreless seventh inning and Joe Nathan earned his 42nd save with a flawless ninth. Alexi Ogando started for Texas and allowed three runs in 5 1/3 innings.
The Rangers have won five in a row at home and six in a row versus the Angels in Arlington. Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus has now hit safely in 14 consecutive games against the Angels after going 2-for-4.
Each of the next two games for the Rangers are a must-win and starter Derek Holland looks to do his part in the playoff chase when he takes the mound Saturday. Holland has a 10-9 record in 32 starts with a 3.33 earned run average and was 0-3 in his previous eight appearances, then hurled a shutout against Houston on Monday, when he scattered six hits, struck out nine batters and walked one in a 12-0 victory.
Holland, a left-hander, is 3-6 in 15 home starts and 7-6 with a 5.81 ERA in 20 career matchups (17 starts) with the Angels. In four starts against Anaheim this season, Holland sports an 0-1 mark and 6.66 ERA.
The Angels will try again to spoil the Rangers' fun and have dropped two in a row following wins in 11 of the previous 15 games.
J.C. Gutierrez gave up both runs in the seventh inning on Friday to take the loss and came on in relief of starter C.J. Wilson, who was reached for three runs in six innings in the no-decision. He walked four and struck out six.
"I just thought C.J. was off all night," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "He was behind every count. It was just a struggle for C.J. Still he got through six innings giving us a chance, he just wasn't sharp out there."
Former Ranger Josh Hamilton knocked in two runs, while Kole Calhoun and Andrew Romine combined for four hits, three runs scored and an RBI in defeat. Hamilton recorded the 1,000th hit of his career.
Garrett Richards will take the mound for the Halos Saturday in hopes of slowing down a determined Rangers squad. Richards lost his last time out in a 10-5 defeat versus Oakland on Monday, as he yielded seven runs and eight hits in 4 2/3 innings. He entered that start 3-0 in his past four outings.
Richards is 7-7 with a 4.09 ERA in 46 games, 16 of which have been starts, this season and 2-0 with a 4.33 ERA in nine career games (5 starts) against the Rangers. The right-hander has faced Texas four times (2 starts) this season, going 1-0 to go along with a 3.07 ERA.
Texas is 13-4 versus the Angels this season.