If there’s been one constant to the Angels this season, it’s been inconsistency.
Twice they’ve had winning streaks of five or more games. And three times they’ve had losing streaks that long.
They’ve gone into hitting streaks and fallen in hitting slumps.
But through all the ups and downs, there were two things on which the Angels could depend: the right arm of Jered Weaver and the left arm of Scott Downs.
Sunday night, in perhaps the Angels’ biggest game of the summer, both came up lame, allowing the Texas Rangers to rally for a 9-5 victory that pushed the Angels three games behind the first-place Rangers in the American League West, one game further back than when they arrived in Texas on Friday.
Only now they have three fewer games in which to make up the deficit. The Rangers took two of three in the series.
Pitching on three days’ rest for the first time in his career, Weaver had one of his worst outings of the season, giving up a seven runs and a season-high eight hits in six innings. He also walked a season-high four batters.
Weaver left the game with the score tied, 5-5, after giving up three consecutive hits to start the seventh. The Angels then turned to Downs, who has had 25 appearances in which he hasn't allowed a hit this season, stranding 21 of 25 inherited runners.
That lasted all of one pitch Sunday when Josh Hamilton greeted him by singling in the go-ahead run. The Rangers made it 8-5 a couple of batters later on a two-run pinch single from Endy Chavez, then tacked on an eighth-inning insurance run on Elvis Andrus' single.
For the next month the Angels and Rangers will be watching each other on the scoreboard since they don’t meet again until the final three games of the season. And the paths they’ll be following to that final series have wildly different degrees of difficulty, with the Angels seemingly enjoying the easier schedule.
Although the Angels will play 26 games in 28 days before seeing the Rangers again in Anaheim, the six teams they’ll meet have a combined winning percentage of .467. And just one -- the Yankees, who come to Angel Stadium for a three-game series next month -- currently has a winning record.
The Rangers, meanwhile, have two fewer games and two more off days than the Angels, but the five teams they’ll meet have a .509 winning percentage. And just two -- Oakland and Seattle -– have losing records.
What’s more, the Rangers, who have lost seven of their last 11, could enter the season’s final weeks missing two of their biggest offensive threats.
Third baseman Adrian Beltre, who has 20 homers and 76 runs batted in, has been on the disabled list with a sore left hamstring for three weeks, and outfielder Nelson Cruz, who leads the team with 28 homers and 84 RBIs, came up lame running out a sixth-inning double Sunday. He'll have an MRI test Monday.
The Angels, who once led 4-1, took a 5-4 lead into the decisive seventh thanks to Howie Kendrick's fifth-inning home run, his fifth homer in his last six games.
Earlier the Angels scored on Bobby Abreu's RBI single in the first, and Abreu scored in the third when he doubled and came home on Mark Trumbo's double. The other two runs scored on singles by Jeff Mathis in the second and Vernon Wells in the third.
The Rangers got their first run in the second when Yorvit Torrealba hit a two-out solo home run off Weaver, and got even in the third when they scored three times, on Andrus' RBI triple and a two-run home run from Hamilton.
Angels-Rangers box score
Angels' gamble and hit jackpot against Rangers
Russell Branyan cuts it too close for comfort for Peter Bourjos
-- Kevin Baxter, from Arlington, Texas
Photo: Angels starting pitcher Jered Weaver turns away from the plate as Rangers left fielder Josh Hamilton rounds third base after hitting a home run in the third inning Sunday. Credit: Tim Heitman / US Presswire