The Angels had a rally going. Albert Pujols and Kole Calhoun had knocked back-to-back singles to start Friday's sixth inning, and Andrelton Simmons, two for two on the night, was approaching the plate.
But, watching the broadcast, Texas staffers saw that Pujols stepped off second for an instant while Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor had his glove on him. The Rangers challenged the call and got it overturned. The change might've been the difference in their 4-2 win over the Angels on a muggy night at Globe Life Park.
In Rangers starter Colby Lewis' 10 starts against the Angels over the last two seasons, he had yielded more runs than he had thrown innings. He gave up nine hits Friday night, but only the two runs over seven innings.
The Angels' starter, left-hander Hector Santiago, cruised through his first four-plus innings, facing two batters over the minimum. With two outs in the fifth, he found his first trouble when Ryan Rua golfed a sinker into the left-field bleachers for a solo homer. In the sixth, Santiago encountered real disorder.
He issued his first walk of the game and then gave up a single to rookie star Nomar Mazara. Simmons and Johnny Giavotella connected to produce a double play on an Adrian Beltre ground ball, but Prince Fielder singled through to right field to tie the game.
Facing Ian Desmond next, Santiago quickly got the count to 0-2. He threw a changeup, outside, and Desmond fouled it off. Then came three consecutive balls. On the seventh pitch of the at-bat, Santiago fired another changeup, inside, and Desmond shot it down the left-field line.
Rafael Ortega threw to Simmons, the cut-off man, and there seemed still enough time to get the slow-moving Fielder out at home. But Simmons' throw home was off-line, the run scored, and the game was effectively decided.
"It's on me," Simmons said. "I just have to make a better throw, and we get out of the inning a lot better."
Texas scored once more in the inning, when Mitch Moreland singled in Desmond. That brought Manager Mike Scioscia out of his dugout perch to remove Santiago in favor of Cam Bedrosian.
The Angels generated only one more baserunner with their final nine outs. It was Mike Trout, who doubled with one out in the eighth and was stranded at third.
Santiago's average velocity in his last start — 93.6 mph — was his highest since August 2013, but he did not have that Friday. He struggled to surpass 91 for the first several innings and averaged 91.9 overall.
"The balls were sinking and running all over the place today," Santiago said. "My hand was soaking wet."
Odor led off the Rangers' first inning with a single. When Mazara then tapped a ball to Giavotella, Odor slid hard and out of his path into second base to prevent Simmons from turning the double play.
After much discussion with the umpires, Scioscia challenged the call. But the ruling stood, and he took issue with the enforcement of baseball's new rule afterward.
"We were told that you couldn't veer, even if you could still touch the bag with your hand," Scioscia said. "He obviously veered."
He did not have a problem with the decision to call Pujols out at second.
"Where do you draw the line?" Scioscia asked. "You have to be on the bag. That's just the way it is."
Pujols said it was "embarrassing" to see instant replay used to enforce a call that way.
"Come on, dude," he said. "That's not baseball."
It did not look like baseball would be played three hours before the game, when a report circulated of a hailstorm coming at 4:50 p.m. Minutes before that, Angels right-hander Garrett Richards had tried to throw a bullpen session but ceased when the showers began. He headed back to the visiting clubhouse with his wet gray T-shirt hinting at the rain.
"Is it pumping right now?" Trout asked him. "I gotta go out and see this."
Out he went, onto the dugout bench, where he sat with several teammates and awaited the purported torrent. The rain intensified as the sky darkened, thwacking the tarp across the infield.
"Come on, hail," Trout wailed.
There would be no hail. There would be no victory.