Hunter Pence’s hard-hit single down the third base line against a drawn-in infield led to the Angels’ latest walk-off loss at Globe Life Park. But a walk two innings earlier might have been the Angels’ biggest mistake in their 8-7 loss to the Texas Rangers on Wednesday night.
Before reliever Trevor Cahill gave up a leadoff single to Elvis Andrus and threw two wild pitches that allowed the Rangers shortstop to reach third base with no outs in the ninth, his teammates made some misguided offerings and blew a three-run lead.
Taylor Cole got ahead 0-and-2 on the light-hitting Jeff Mathis to start the seventh inning but did not put him away. Four straight balls gave Mathis a free pass to first base. Mathis eventually came around to score as the Rangers cut the Angels’ advantage to 7-6.
“I should have at least thrown a fastball at the end, but I got one of the best changeups in the game,” said Cole, who has held opponents to a .202 average against that off-speed pitch. “So for him to not spit on three in a row, I’ll tip my cap. I could have gone after him a little more.”
Luis Garcia issued a leadoff walk of his own in the eighth after getting two strikes to start Rangers rookie Nick Solak’s at-bat. Solak also jogged to first.
Manager Brad Ausmus was forced to turn early to closer Hansel Robles. The flame thrower got two outs, but not before Solak scored the tying run.
Walks hurt the Angels earlier in this grueling series, during which the teams played four games in three days and finished only one contest in under 3 1/2 hours. In Monday’s 11-inning loss, the Angels issued nine free passes.
The failures of the pitching staff overshadowed the Angels’ valiant effort against Rangers starter Mike Minor. After sending 12 to the plate without advancing any runners to second base over three innings, the Angels tied the score 2-2 in the fourth.
Albert Pujols, who doubled and chugged home on Brian Goodwin’s two-base hit in the fourth, just missed his 20th homer in the fifth. The ball still bounced off the top of the eight-foot wall in right field for a two-run single that erased the 4-2 advantage the Rangers acquired minutes earlier. It also took Angels rookie starter Patrick Sandoval, who struggled to execute pitches and gave up four runs and eight hits in 3 1/3 innings, off the hook.
The Angels took a 7-4 lead in the sixth. With the bases loaded and one out, Justin Upton lofted a sacrifice fly. Misplays allowed a second run to score and Mike Trout, who had been walked intentionally, to reach second base. Trout scored upon the departure of Minor, who gave up season highs in hits (10) and runs (seven).
The Angels’ three-run sixth should have been enough for them to win their final game at this stadium, which will be repurposed after this season as the Rangers move to a new facility across the street.
The Angels were instead walked off in Arlington for the 10th time since 2012, and the third time in the series.
“The leadoff walk to Mathis was probably what hurt the most,” Ausmus said.