By Joe Haakenson, The Sports Xchange
ANAHEIM, Calif. — It wasn’t quite as impressive as their seven-run, ninth-inning rally on Sunday, but the end result was the same.
The Los Angeles Angels scored three runs in the bottom of the ninth to tie the game, then won it in the 10th on a squeeze bunt by Carlos Perez to come away with a 6-5 win over the Texas Rangers on Tuesday night at Angel Stadium.
On Sunday, the Angels were down 9-3 heading into the ninth inning before they rallied to beat the Seattle Mariners, so a 5-2 deficit entering the ninth Tuesday wasn’t nearly as daunting.
And it didn’t hurt the Angels’ chances that Rangers reliever Sam Dyson entered the game with a 36.00 ERA in his first three appearances.
In the bottom of the ninth, after a solo homer by Danny Espinosa off Dyson and two outs sandwiched around a double by Yunel Escobar, the Angels trailed 5-3 and were down to their final out.
Mike Trout battled back from an 0-2 count and stroked an RBI double to right field to score Escobar and make it 5-4.
Then Albert Pujols, who had two hits in Sunday’s ninth-inning rally, came through again, singling off Dyson to score Trout and tie the game at 5-5.
But, unlike Sunday, the Angels were not able to win it in the ninth.
Ex-Angel Mike Napoli appeared to have broken the tie leading off the 10th with a long drive to center field, but Trout reached above the fence to make the catch.
In the bottom of the 10th, Cameron Maybin led off with a walk against Rangers reliever Jeremy Jeffress (0-1). One out later, Espinosa singled to right, sending Maybin to third.
On the first pitch to Perez, Maybin broke for home and scored after Perez laid down a perfect bunt up the first-base line.
“I knew before I got to the plate (the squeeze was on),” Perez said. “(Angels manager Mike) Scioscia told me before (I walked to the plate). I was ready for it. It was a tough pitch, a slider. I just tried to put it in play, not be too perfect.”
The victory marked the first time in franchise history the Angels had won consecutive games after trailing by five or more runs in both games. And both wins required dramatic ninth-inning rallies.
As the Angels batted in the ninth inning Tuesday, the Sunday rally was still fresh in their minds.
“We were thinking about it, for sure,” Trout said. “It was an unbelievable comeback and one of the coolest games I’ve been a part of. It speaks for the team. We never gave up, we trusted ourselves, always stayed positive, believed we could come back.”
Rangers starting pitcher Cole Hamels cooled the hot Angels bats early, shutting them out through the first six innings before giving up a solo homer to Jefry Marte in the seventh.
Hamels gave up one run and four hits through seven innings, and he handed a 5-1 lead to the bullpen in the eighth. He was in line for his first win of the season before the bullpen gave it up.
“The only damage was the home run,” Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. “He was able to make pitches, get the two double-play balls when he needed it. I like what we saw from Cole tonight.”
The failure by the bullpen, and Dyson in particular, has Banister considering a change in the late innings.
“As these things continue to mount, there’s definitely concern,” Banister said. “We’ve got to find a way to get that third out when we have leads. … We’ll consider all our options. We can’t continue to lose baseball games in this manner when we have the lead.”
Angels starter Tyler Skaggs struggled throughout his five-plus innings, giving up five runs on eight hits and two walks. The inning that hurt him the most was the third, when he gave up a solo homer to Elvis Andrus and a three-run homer to Jonathan Lucroy.
The Angels have won four in a row and, at 6-2, are off to the best start through eight games in club history — matched only by the 1970 team.