Published November 20, 2014
After all, the Angels won the series finale, but Texas emphatically won the series against the only team left with a shot at challenging them for a playoff spot.
Trumbo hit a game-ending two-run homer down the left-field line, and the Angels beat the Rangers 2-1 on Thursday night, dramatically preventing Texas from seizing an eight-game lead in the AL West standings.
After three straight wins in the series and six straight overall on the road, the Rangers were just three outs away from a commanding lead in the playoff race in front of the Angels, who had lost seven of eight and appeared to be teetering on collapse.
But Los Angeles didn't even make another out against new Texas reliever Mike Adams (1-2). After Torii Hunter led off with a single, Trumbo cracked his 23rd homer of the season, comfortably putting it around the foul pole.
"You can get a lift from a walk-off like that," Texas slugger Josh Hamilton said. "Depends on how you come back the next day. We definitely got a lift from coming in and playing as well as we did, winning three of the four and putting ourselves in position to win another one."
Adams wasted seven scoreless innings by Colby Lewis, who yielded four hits and struck out seven while outpitching Jered Weaver through seven tight innings. Texas fell just short of the first four-game sweep at Angel Stadium in the rivalry's long history, but still left Anaheim with a healthy six-game lead in the AL West.
"It's just like getting a win," said Mike Napoli, who hit a seventh-inning homer off Weaver. "We move on to the next day then, too. We did what we wanted to do and won the series."
Trumbo had two hits and further cemented his status as the Angels' most compelling hitter in a lackluster offensive season. He leads all major league rookies with 68 RBIs after driving in 24 runs in his last 25 games — and he's the first Angels rookie ever to hit two game-ending homers.
"When he makes contact and gets one over the fence, it's usually not a fence-scraper," said Weaver, who left trailing 1-0 despite pitching seven innings of six-hit ball. "It was sure nice, obviously a big hit in a big situation. It's six (games back) now instead of eight, so that definitely helps out."
Trumbo's shot abruptly ended four days of offensive frustration and set off an unlikely celebration on the field for the Angels, who trailed the Rangers by just 1½ games early last week before their skid. Horacio Ramirez (1-0) got one out in the ninth for Los Angeles, earning his first win in the majors since 2008.
"Hopefully this is going to propel a nice little run for us," said Trumbo, who's on track to become the first rookie to lead Los Angeles in homers and RBIs. "We've been scuffling and a lot of people are frustrated, myself included. That road trip wasn't very good, and it didn't help our momentum going into this crucial series. But we'll take what we can get."
Weaver was mostly sharp in his second start back from a six-game suspension, but appeared headed for a hard-luck loss on Napoli's homer.
Weaver gave up three homers and a season-high eight runs to Toronto last week in a rocky return from the ban for throwing a pitch at the head of Detroit's Alex Avila. Weaver was angry about Carlos Guillen's showboating stroll around the bases after a homer moments earlier — and the AL's All-Star game starter also showed his suspension didn't totally cure his temper.
Weaver reacted angrily to a couple of early balls-and-strikes calls, and he later gestured in frustration at the Los Angeles dugout when shortstop Erick Aybar couldn't track down a popup into the outfield.
Weaver allowed just one runner to reach third base before Napoli homered off the fake rock pile in left-center leading off the seventh. Although Napoli didn't noticeably showboat, Weaver stared down Napoli all the way around the bases, and he shot another look — and a few words — at the Texas dugout after the inning ended.
"I guess when he was walking off the mound, I don't know, it looked like he might have been saying something," Napoli said of his longtime teammate. "What, you can't hit homers off him now?"
Weaver declined comment.
NOTES: The Rangers scratched Mitch Moreland shortly before the game with tightness in his hamstring. The first baseman went 7 for 12 in the first three games of the series. ... Hunter extended his hitting streak to 16 games with his late single. ... The Rangers open a weekend series in Chicago on Friday night with Matt Harrison facing the White Sox's Jake Peavy. Los Angeles welcomes Baltimore on Friday, with Dan Haren pitching for the Angels.
(This version CORRECTS Angels 2, Rangers 1. Corrects statistic in 9th paragraph to first Angels rookie with two game-ending homers. With AP Photos.)