David Fletcher and Luis Rengifo spark Angels to comeback win over Rangers

Los Angeles Angels' Luis Rengifo celebrates his two-run double against the Texas Rangers.
Luis Rengifo celebrates after hitting a go-ahead, two-run double in the eighth inning of a 9-7 win over the Texas Rangers on Saturday night at Angel Stadium. (Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)

The Angels were not willing to go out with a whimper for a third straight game against the Texas Rangers.

On Saturday, down by three in the bottom of the eighth, the Angels rallied for a 9-7 win over their division rival at Angel Stadium in a game that involved four lead changes.

“Shout out to everyone, man,” Brandon Marsh said. “Took all of us to scrap this one. So it was a big win for us.”

David Fletcher came into the game off the bench after Phil Gosselin was hit in the head on a 91-mph pitch by Rangers starter Glenn Otto in the third inning. In the eighth, Fletcher’s double, which scored two runs, helped change the momentum in favor of the Angels, pulling them to within one run.

That eighth, which began with Max Stassi getting a single, also included Marsh patiently working a 12-pitch walk off Rangers reliever Dennis Santana, both runners the build-up to Fletcher’s big hit.

“Just a spot you really don’t want to be in but it was fun,” Marsh said of his at-bat, which started with an 0-and-2 count.

Then the Angels tied the score and pulled ahead.

Santana was pulled for Brett Martin, who struck out Kurt Suzuki for the second out, intentionally walked Shohei Ohtani, walked Taylor Ward in a five-pitch at-bat, then threw a wild pitch to Luis Rengifo. That allowed Fletcher to score the tying run without even needing to sprint home. Rengifo then hit a two-run double to score Ohtani and Ward.

“I stay focused every single time I take my at-bats,” Rengifo said. “It’s very exciting. Dropping in the two runs for the win. What’s most important is the team wins and I’m so happy for that.”

Fletcher was not supposed to play Saturday, the Angels easing him back into action after he was sidelined for so long.

“I was worried about him, to be honest with you,” interim manager Phil Nevin said. “I told him to take it easy out there.

“And Luis … the at-bats that he takes, the way he’s put into his work... It’s pretty cool what you’re watching.”

The rally was especially satisfying for the Angels considering how the game started: Gosselin getting hit and then Ohtani giving them a lead in the third inning with his 22nd home run of the season.

Luis Rengifo tosses his bat after hitting a two-run double for the Angels in the eighth inning Saturday.
Luis Rengifo tosses his bat after hitting a two-run double for the Angels in the eighth inning Saturday. (Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)
Luis Rengifo celebrates his two-run double for the Angels during the eighth inning.
Luis Rengifo celebrates his two-run double for the Angels during the eighth inning. (Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)

Ohtani’s three-run shot, hit on Otto’s 1-and-0 changeup, was more run support than the Angels had provided in the previous two crushing losses to their division rival. It also gave the Angels a 3-2 lead in the game, after starter Chase Silseth gave up two hits and walked two batters in the top half of the inning — which allowed the Rangers to take an early two-run lead.

Two at-bats prior to Ohtani’s home run, Gosselin was hit hard enough for his helmet to fly off. He stepped away from the batter’s box and crouched facing the dugout, mostly keeping his head down. Nevin and athletic trainer Mike Frostad rushed out to him. Gosselin was able to walk off the field on his own and Fletcher came in to pinch-run for him.

“We think he’s good,” Nevin said of Gosselin.

In the fourth, Silseth gave up a three-run home run to Texas’ Marcus Semien. The blast floated toward the rocks in the outfield. Marsh sprinted and hopped onto the wall, trying to rob Semien of the shot and save the Angels lead. It was too far out of his reach and the Angels once again found themselves playing from behind.

Silseth’s final line included five hits and five earned runs with four walks and five strikeouts over four innings.

The Angels started the process of chipping away at the two-run deficit in the fifth. Ward worked a six-pitch walk. Three batters later, Ward was driven in by Stassi, who managed a single off Otto to cut the Angels’ deficit to one.

Then the Rangers pulled away even further in the sixth inning, when newly called up reliever Touki Toussaint, in his Angels debut, gave up a two-run home run to Meibrys Viloria. But Toussaint lasted four innings without any more damage and earned the win.

The Rangers made more noise in the ninth, but closer Raisel Iglesias was able to get out of a two-on, two-out jam, getting the save.

“Every time you see a comeback win or even just a win in general, watching you teammates succeed is just the best,” Silseth said.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.