BY: Richard W. Humphrey
The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim were mathematically eliminated from playoff contention Monday night when Texas beat them 4-3. Rookie Mark Hamburger won his first Major League game with continued run support from the torrid Adrian Beltre. The win kept Texas one game ahead of Detroit in the race for home field advantage in the first round of the playoffs, as the Tigers routed Cleveland 14-0. Texas now has 94 wins on the season, one behind the franchise record set in 1999.
C. J. Wilson started for Texas in a tune-up appearance for Friday’s game one start in the ALDS. He was limited to two innings, and wasn’t particularly sharp, needing 38 pitches to retire six batters. In the end though he held the Angels scoreless to finish the season with 16 wins, 223.1 innings pitched and a 2.94 ERA. The ERA figure is the lowest for a Ranger starting pitcher since Nolan Ryan posted a 2.91 in 1991. It’s a season that will make Wilson one of the most sought after free agents this winter.
Hamburger followed Wilson and threw 3.2 innings, allowing a run on two hits and a walk, to earn the win in his fifth Major League appearance. Four Ranger relievers followed Hamburger to finish the game, including Neftali Feliz, who pitched the ninth to earn his 31st save of the year.
Texas scratched out a first inning run and never trailed in the game. Beltre continued his torrid month by blasting a two run shot in the fifth to extend the lead to 3-0. He now has 27 RBIs in September and has hit a home run in 11 of his last 14 games. Texas added an eighth inning run that proved to be the margin of victory.
The magic number for Texas to clinch home field advantage and oppose the Wild Card team in the ALDS is now two. The Rangers could clinch Tuesday with a win coupled with a Tiger loss. With Los Angeles eliminated, the Wild Card team will be either Boston or Tampa Bay. They are tied at 89-71 with two games to go. If they are still tied after Wednesday’s finale, they will play a one-game playoff Thursday in St. Petersburg to determine the Wild Card.
Tuesday in Anaheim, Colby Lewis (13-10, 4.45) faces Ervin Santana (11-12, 3.38). In Detroit, Cleveland’s Jeanmar Gomez (5-2, 3.52) opposes Max Scherzer (14-9, 4.37).