Carlos Gomez whipped his hands through the strike zone, propelled a baseball through the night, flipped his bat and held up two fingers to his teammates, in the less aggressive of two dramatic gestures made toward the Texas Rangers’ dugout Saturday night at Globe Life Park.
The Texas center fielder hit for the cycle for the second time in his career in his team’s 6-3 victory over the Angels.
First came a double, in a windy first inning, off Angels starter Jesse Chavez. Next was a single, in the third, again off Chavez.
In the fifth, Gomez tripled off Mike Trout’s glove in right-center to drive in the tying run, making it 2-2.
Chavez needed only to retire the .187-hitting Rougned Odor to end the fifth with that score intact.
Instead, Odor hammered a 1-and-2 slider down the right-field line. The pitch had caught too much of the plate. Fans gasped, the ball sliced through the humid air, and Chavez found himself hoping the earlier wind would suddenly return. But the baseball banged off the foul pole for a two-run homer, and Chavez placed his hands on his head in disbelief.
“When I get hurt, it’s good location, wrong time,” Chavez said. “That’s what happened in that situation.”
And then, in the seventh, Gomez faced Angels right-hander Jose Valdez, just up from triple-A Salt Lake. In the majors a year ago, the pitcher had a penchant for issuing walks and serving up homers.
Kole Calhoun’s fourth-inning single marked the Angels’ first hit against Rangers starter Yu Darvish. Trout soon doubled to score a run and advanced to third on an error.
Darvish next went way inside with a fastball to Albert Pujols, nearly drilling the Angels’ designated hitter in the helmet. Pujols took offense and shouted toward the Rangers’ dugout. On the next pitch, he walloped a drive that went just foul, to the left of the left-field pole.
He then settled for a sacrifice fly. From the Angels’ dugout, Pujols continued to point and shout at the Rangers’ side. He later said he was not upset at Darvish, who he could tell missed his spot, but at injured Rangers pitcher Chi Chi Gonzalez, whom he heard “popping off” from the dugout.
“I didn’t appreciate that,” Pujols said. “That’s why I was yelling at him.”
Both Chavez and Darvish dealt with a diminutive strike zone. Home-plate umpire Adam Hamari seemed intent on redefining anything at the knees as a ball.
So, to finish six innings, Darvish required 125 pitches, the most anyone has thrown in Major League Baseball this season. He walked the bases loaded in the sixth, but Rangers manager Jeff Banister stuck with him, and he induced a pop out from Andrelton Simmons and a weak ground out from Ben Revere.
“We made him work,” Pujols said. “We just didn’t come up with the big hits, myself included.”
The Angels went 0 for 10 with runners in scoring position. Facing Texas closer Matt Bush in the ninth, Revere singled, took second on an error and third on a Danny Espinosa ground out. Pinch-hitter Cliff Pennington drove a fly ball to left field, where Delino DeShields tried to time his run-up to throw home. Instead, he missed the catch altogether, and Revere scored easily. Yunel Escobar then grounded out.
In a 1-and-2 count, Bush hurled a 99-mph fastball toward the bottom of the zone, and Calhoun let it pass, thinking Hamari would make the same call he’d been making all night.
He did not, ruling this one a strike, and Calhoun became enraged as the game ended.
“The No. 1 thing you want as a player is a consistent strike zone,” he said later. “Maybe that ball’s in the zone. But I hadn’t had one called like that on me tonight.”
The Angels’ five-game winning streak was no more.
“We were right in that game to the very last pitch,” Calhoun said. “You might call it a frustrating game. But, we get guys on base like that, we’re right where we want to be.”
Follow Pedro Moura on Twitter @pedromoura