The Angels were not willing to go out with a whimper for a third straight game against the Texas Rangers.
On Saturday, down by three in the bottom of the eighth, the Angels rallied for a 9-7 win over their division rival at Angel Stadium in a game that involved four lead changes.
David Fletcher came into the game off the bench after Phil Gosselin was hit in the head on a 91-mph pitch by Rangers starter Glenn Otto in the third inning. In the eighth, Fletcher’s double, which scored two runs, helped change the momentum in favor of the Angels, pulling them to within one run.
That eighth, which began with Max Stassi getting a single, also included Brandon Marsh working a 12-pitch walk off Rangers reliever Dennis Santana, both runners the build-up to Fletcher’s big hit.
Then the Angels tied the game and pulled ahead.
Santana was pulled for Brett Martin, who struck out Kurt Suzuki for the second out, intentionally walked Shohei Ohtani, walked Taylor Ward in a five-pitch at-bat, then threw a wild pitch to Luis Rengifo. That allowed Fletcher to score the tying run without even needing to sprint home. Rengifo then hit a two-run double to score Ohtani and Ward.
Perhaps it was all a rallying cry, not just for Gosselin, but also for Ohtani, who in the third inning hit his 22nd home run of the season off Otto to get the Angels their first lead of the game.
Ohtani’s three-run shot, hit on Otto’s 1-and-0 changeup, was more run support than the Angels had provided in the previous two blowout losses to their division rival. It also gave the Angels a 3-2 lead in the game, after starter Chase Silseth gave up two hits and walked two batters in the top half of the inning — which allowed the Rangers to take an early two-run lead.
In the bottom of the third, Gosselin was hit hard enough for his helmet to fly off. He stepped away from the batter’s box and crouched facing the dugout, mostly keeping his head down. Interim manager Phil Nevin and athletic trainer Mike Frostad rushed out to him. Gosselin was able to walk off the field on his own and Fletcher came in to pinch-run for him.
Andrew Velazquez then stepped to the plate, bunted and outran the throw to first, giving the crowd something to be excited about. Ohtani’s home run fully woke up the crowd.
In the fourth, Silseth gave up a three-run home run to Texas’ Marcus Semien. The blast floated towards the rocks in the outfield. Marsh sprinted and hopped onto the wall, trying to rob Semien of the shot and save the Angels lead. It was too far out of his reach and the Angels once again found themselves playing from behind.
Silseth’s final line included five hits and five earned runs with four walks and five strikeouts over four innings.
The Angels started the process of chipping away at the two-run deficit in the fifth. Ward worked a six-pitch walk. Three batters later, Ward was driven in by Stassi, who managed a single off Otto to cut the Angels’ deficit to one.
Then the Rangers pulled away even further in the sixth inning, when newly called up reliever Touki Toussaint, in his Angels debut, gave up a two-run home run to Meibrys Viloria. But Toussaint lasted four innings without any more damage and earned the win.
The Rangers made more noise in the ninth, but closer Raisel Iglesias was able to get out of a two-on, two-out jam, getting the save.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.