The Rangers came into the Big A tonight as one of the obstacles standing between the Halos and a Wild Card play-in game spot. Given the last couple series whoopings that Texas had doled out, the early September showdown took on a weighty, foreboding presence; do or die, this is it. Win now, or just go ahead and do us a favor and wrap this season up. Even beyond the Rangers this weekend, the Angels have quite the tough road. This team is nothing if not focused on the Mike Scioscia "one game at a time" adage, so the Dodgers and Astros can wait. This weekend, they have the Rangers. And while they may be tough, the Halos have a Texas-sized Ranger killer. His name? C.J. friggin’ Cron.
Garrett Richards was on the mound, and the first order of business when it came to striking a blow and moving up the rankings would be Suppress the Lineup. Richards was up to the task in this respect, working his nasty slider and heaters with skill and aplomb, regardless of whether or not he was getting squeezed with multiple low-and-away-in-the-zone pitches(and he was FOR SURE getting squeezed). Richards really only got in trouble in the sixth, when he had a couple men on and gave up a sac fly to Rougned Odor. The fly ball was the second out of the inning, and with Prince Fielder tagging up, the Angels went to second to attempt to get that runner instead of the one heading for home. A great throw to Erick Aybar got Mitch Moreland at second, but it was a split second after Fielder crossed home. The play was reviewed, and while the inning was done, the run counted. There was also a Shin Soo-Choo triple off of Trevor Gott in the seventh, in which Shane Victorino attempted to catch at the wall but instead hit the padding face first, at full speed. While Gott was on the mound, the runner was inherited from Richards. The starter finished with 6 IP, 2 ER, a not-so-good 5 walks and 1 K.
With the Rangers’ offense mostly stifled, it was time to unleash C.J. Cron, Ranger Slayer. Cron was a homer short of the cycle tonight, serving up extra base hits like it was as natural as breathing, and driving in ALL five of the Angels’ runs tonight. He had a two run single in the third inning, a triple in fifth that scored Albert Pujols, and a clutch a huge, clutch double off the right field wall in the seventh that took the score from 3-2 to 5-2. That would be the punctuation mark on a very well played game by Richards and Cron, the lighting and the thunder that helped the team gain an extremely important game against Texas. C.J. Cron not only needs to be in every lineup against Texas from here on out, but considering he’s been one of the few hitters they have recently, he needs to be penciled in EVERY. DAY.
Along with the Rangers, the Twins also lost tonight. Angels move a game up on the leaders, and now have a nice little three game winning...well, maybe it’s not a winning streak yet. These things develop quickly, though. By the end of the weekend, we may be in full on HOPE FOR OCTOBER alert. Keep your eyes peeled.