Cross posted at SoCal Sports Hub.
I was starting to think I was a jinx. The Angels had lost all of the four previous games I've recapped here, and after the first inning last night, it looked like more of the same. But Jon Garland settled down, the bats woke up, and the Angels finished off a 7-5 victory, dropping their magic number to 13.
Garland started the game by finding a lot of bats. He allowed five hits in the first, and four runs, three coming in on Milton Bradley's homer to right center field. Mark Teixeira went deep in the bottom of the third for the Angels first run, but the Rangers pushed the lead back to four on Chris Davis' home run in the top of the fourth. The Angels responded with a run in the sixth inning on Garret Anderson's double (and Nelson Cruz's error), but continued to struggle getting runners home in clutch situations.
That changed in the bottom of the eighth. After singles from Vlad Guerrero and Torii Hunter, Joaquin Benoit proceeded to walk both Garret Anderson and Mike Napoli to cut the lead to two. Brandon Wood, fresh up from Salt Lake, couldn't add to the rally, but Juan Rivera, hitting for Sean Rodriguez, drilled a three run double to deep right center (just missing a grand slam), giving the Angels a one run lead. Two singles later (Figgins and Willits), the Angels had turned a three run deficit into a two run lead.
Francisco Rodriguez entered in the ninth. He opened by striking out Davis before giving up a single to Jared Saltalamacchia. He then hit Brandon Boggs, who quite frankly deserved it for the half hour he took to get to the plate. Frankie induced a double play ball from Michael Young to put the game away, and walked off with is 51st save of the season.
Top three Angels performers:
1) A night after one of his most disappointing games of the season, Torii Hunter delivered three hits, and scored twice. His eighth inning single was one of the keys to the Angels rally in that inning.
2) Juan Rivera's clutch three run double in the eighth was the most important hit of the night for the Angels.
3) I could go with Teixeira, who hit his 8th home run as an Angel, but believe it or not, Jon Garland gets the nod here. After his rough first inning, he lasted seven more, only gave up one run, and stuck around long enough to get the win.
Jeff Weaver of the game:
I hate to be too critical, but Brandon Wood and Sean Rodriguez gave a taste of why the Angels had the league's worst offense in May and June. They combined to go 0-7 with Rodriguez striking out twice.
What to look for tonight:
Ervin Santana brings a string of five straight solid (if unspectacular) starts to the mound against Dustin Nippert, who makes his second start of the season, and the seventh of his career. He comes in with an ERA near 8.00, and gave up seven runs in four innings in his other start last week.
Game time is 7:05 PST on FSN.