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Preview: Angels at Rangers

Current Conditions – Arlington
Wind: S 7
5-Day Forecast GAME: Los Angeles Angels (85-76) at Texas Rangers (87-74)
DATE/TIME: Sunday, October 04 – 3:05 PM EST
WHERE: Globe Life Park in Arlington, Arlington, Texas

The Texas Rangers already have had two chances to clinch the American League West, only to fall victim both times to the ninth-inning magic of the Los Angeles Angels. The Rangers remain in search of their first division title since 2011 and the Angels will attempt to do their part to force a one-game playoff for the final wild-card spot when they wrap up a four-game set in the regular-season finale in Texas on Sunday.

A 5-3 victory in Thursday’s opener put the Rangers (87-74) on the brink of their sixth AL West crown, but Albert Pujols’ tiebreaking RBI single on Friday and the Angels’ five-run ninth inning a day later in a wild 11-10 win has kept the champagne on ice in Arlington. Texas’ back-to-back losses have not only kept alive Los Angeles’ hopes for a wild-card berth, they have given Houston – which won Saturday to remain one game behind the Rangers – a chance to force a one-game playoff for the division title on Monday. The Angels (85-76), who trail the Astros by one game, must win Sunday and hope for a Houston loss in Arizona in order to extend their season at least one more day. “We’ve got one left. The only thing we can do is win it. We can’t control what Houston does,” Los Angeles’ Mike Trout told reporters. “We’re just giving ourselves a chance to make the postseason.”

TV: 3:05 p.m. ET, FSN West (Los Angeles), FSN Southwest (Texas)

PITCHING MATCHUP: Angels RH Garrett Richards (15-11, 3.62 ERA) vs. Rangers LH Cole Hamels (12-8, 3.72)

Richards was charged with three unearned runs on two hits and four walks over six innings in a no-decision against Oakland on Wednesday. The 27-year-old Oklahoma product, who ranks second in the AL in walks with 74, has issued at least four free passes in each of his last four trips to the mound and 24 overall in six September outings. Richards will be taking only his second career turn on short rest but has been spectacular in 17 career appearances (13 starts) against the Rangers, going 9-1 with a 3.10 ERA.

Hamels yielded six runs and seven hits – including a pair of homers – on Tuesday but still was able to pick up a victory in his third straight outing to improve to 6-0 over his last nine starts. Since Texas lost his first two turns after acquiring him from Philadelphia at the trade deadline, it has yet to lose with the 2008 World Series MVP on the mound. Hamels took the loss in his only other career start against the Angels in 2008, giving up three runs in seven innings.


1. Los Angeles has won 12 of its last 13 one-run decisions and leads the AL with 35 such victories overall.

2. Texas 3B Adrian Beltre’s next home run will move him past Alfonso Soriano (412) and into sole possession of 50th place on the all-time list.

3. Angels 1B/DH C.J. Cron, who finished 2-for-5 after delivering an RBI single during Los Angeles’ ninth-inning outburst on Saturday, is batting .380 with 20 RBIs against Texas this season.

PREDICTION: Rangers 5, Angels 4