Rapid Reaction: Rangers 8, Angels 7
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Texas Rangers clinched a playoff spot as closer Joe Nathan got the save about six hours after he blew just his third one of the season earlier in the day. The 8-7 victory in Game 2 of a day-night doubleheader came after starter Derek Holland allowed four runs in the first. The Texas offense picked him up and he got the win. Some quick thoughts:
What it means: The Rangers clinched a playoff spot with the win and they now need to win one game during the season-ending three-game series in Oakland to clinch the AL West (magic number is two). ... The win also allowed the Yankees and Orioles to clinch a spot in the postseason. ... The Angels are now in a really tough spot as they are three back of Oakland with three to play. The Rays are in the same spot. Both need sweeps in the final series combined with the A's getting swept to tie. ... As for the top seed in the AL, Texas is one game up on the Yankees and Orioles.
NAP-O-LI, NAP-O-LI: Rangers catcher Mike Napoli hit home runs in his first two at-bats. He smoked both, totaling 783 feet, and his second one turned a 4-3 deficit into a 6-4 lead. The "NAP-O-LI, NAP-O-LI" chants were out in full force. ... Napoli came up in the fifth with two on and hit a double to the wall in center. He had six RBIs through five innings and was a one-man wrecking crew.
Napoli crushes Angels: Napoli is now hitting .396 (44-for-111) with 10 doubles, a triple, 12 homers, 25 runs and 25 RBIs in 33 career games against his former team. And he seems to save the best for last. Last year, he hit two home runs in the final game of the regular season to give the Rangers home-field advantage versus Tampa Bay in the ALDS.
Early hole: Holland didn't have it in the first inning. After striking out Mike Trout to start the game, he surrendered five straight hits. He gave up a single to Erick Aybar and a double to Albert Pujols, which scored Aybar. After the red-hot Torii Hunter hit an RBI single, Mark Trumbo mashed a two-run home run. Just like that, it was 4-0 Angels.
Back-to-back jacks: The Rangers had consecutive home runs in the second inning when David Murphy hit a 413-foot shot to Greene's Hill in center and Napoli followed with a homer to left. That closed the gap to 4-3. It was the 11th time the Rangers have hit at least two consecutive homers.
Tough talk: Manager Ron Washington came out to chat with Holland, and Holland wasn't doing any of the talking. It came after Holland issued a two-out walk to Trout in the fourth inning with the Rangers up 6-4. Washington has done this several times during Holland's career, and it worked again Sunday as Holland got Maicer Izturis to end the inning.
Up and down for Holland: After the four-run first inning, Holland didn't give up a run in the second through sixth innings. But he ran into trouble again in the seventh. He gave up two singles and then, with two outs, faced Howard Kendrick, who blasted a pitch into the seats in left-center to score three runs and close the Rangers' lead to one. In the end, Holland allowed seven runs on 12 hits in 6 2/3 innings with five strikeouts and two walks, but left with the lead and got the win.
Nathan gets save: Hours after he blew a save, Nathan got the job done against the Nos. 3-5 hitters in the Angels' order. Nathan has 37 saves in 40 tries.
Hamilton's day: Josh Hamilton had an RBI double in the first inning but struck out twice, too. That came after he had an RBI single but added three strikeouts in the first game. He has a team-high 153 strikeouts to go with a team-high 127 RBIs.
Uehara's streak continues: Koji Uehara struck out the side in the eighth, pushing his streak of retired hitters to 23 in a row. He has 15 strikeouts in that span.
Record attendance: The Rangers had 48,089 at Sunday night's game, giving the club an attendance of 3,460,280 for the 2012 season. Texas will finish third in the big leagues in average per home date behind the Phillies and the Yankees. ... The attendance total is a new club record, as are the 38 sellouts.
Up next: The Rangers will head to Oakland to take on the A's with the AL West still on the line. The first game of the series is at 9:07 p.m. Monday on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM and FSSW.
103.3 FM ESPN PODCASTS
Play Podcast Rangers GM Jon Daniels joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to tackle the tough questions after his team failed to advance to the playoffs.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss having Nelson Cruz back in the lineup and how the Rangers are feeling heading into their wild-card play-in game against the Rays.
Play Podcast ESPN Insider and senior MLB analyst Jim Bowden joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the wild-card race and the Rangers' chances of making the playoffs.
Play Podcast Chuck Cooperstein joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why he feels Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish isn't an ace.
Play Podcast Elvis Andrus joins Galloway and Company to discuss the Rangers' stretch run and the morale level in their clubhouse.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss the latest Rangers news, including the team's struggles, Ron Washington's job security and a rumored trade with the Braves.
Play Podcast Ron Washington joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss the Rangers' dismal September, who's to blame for their September struggles and his status as the team's manager.
Play Podcast Fitzsimmons and Durrett discuss how some people are calling for the Rangers to fire manager Ron Washington.