ARLINGTON, Texas — Joe Nathan feels like the Texas Rangers have been playing elimination games for a week.
Now they are down to the regular season’s scheduled finale, still with a chance to get into the playoffs for the fourth year in a row.
A rain-drenched Nathan struck out Howie Kendrick with two runners on and the infield flooding to close out the Rangers’ sixth straight victory, and second in less than 24 hours. They beat the sloppy Los Angeles Angels 7-4 on Saturday.
“It doesn’t change what we need to do, we need to come in and win a game tomorrow,” Nathan said. “We don’t want to have to rely on somebody to help us all the time.”
They did get some help Saturday when Tampa Bay lost at Toronto, dropping the Rays (90-71) into a tie with the Rangers for the AL’s second wild-card spot. Cleveland (91-70) won its ninth consecutive game, winning at Minnesota to hold the top wild card by a game and ensure the Indians will play past Sunday.
The Rangers trailed only three batters in, but the Angels made five errors in a game for the first time since Sept. 16, 2006, also at Texas. Shortstop Erick Aybar, right fielder Kole Calhoun, left fielder Collin Cowgill, pitcher Garrett Richards and third baseman Andrew Romine had the miscues.
Texas got even with a gift run in the bottom of the first on a grounder through the legs of third baseman Romine. The Angels then made two more errors, and Richards (7-8) threw a wild pitch in the second when the Rangers went ahead for good with four runs — three of them unearned.
“You can’t sugar-coat the way we played defense. It was just brutal. They were silly mistakes, and it cost us. That’s the story of this afternoon,” manager Mike Scioscia said. “Texas made four errors in one inning and overcame it.”