Angels 7, Rangers 4

Preview | Box Score | Recap

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP)—The Los Angeles Angels quickly zipped up their suitcases and emptied out their lockers.

They were going home—eager and happy to be doing so.

The AL West champions clinched home field-advantage for the first round the AL playoffs, closing out the regular season by beating Texas 7-4 Sunday behind Juan Rivera’s three-run homer.

The Angels will face the New York Yankees in the best-of-five series, beginning with Game 1 Tuesday at Anaheim. The Yankees could’ve earned the home field if they’d beaten Boston, but lost 10-1 about an hour after the Angels’ game ended.

“I think we accomplished what we wanted to by getting guys rested and getting home field,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “Everything had to fall in place perfectly, and it looks like it did.”

The Yankees and Angels both finished the regular season 95-67, but the tiebreaker went to the Angels because they won six of 10 against the Yankees this season.

The Angels begin the playoffs having won 14 of their last 16 overall. Scioscia said he wouldn’t reveal his starting rotation until Monday.

Angels starter Ervin Santana (12-8) lasted six innings, allowing four runs on seven hits. He also struck out six.

Francisco Rodriguez got his 45th save in 50 chances, tying him with Bob Wickman for the most saves in the league this season.

The Rangers wrapped up their fifth losing season in six years, but one bright spot Sunday was shortstop Michael Young securing the AL batting title. He did so with a single in the first inning, then left the game to a standing ovation and fireworks after he walked in the third.

Young finished the season batting .331, edging out New York’s Alex Rodriguez.

“It hasn’t really hit me yet,” said Young, who had a 25-game hitting streak end Thursday. “But I know it’s something I can carry with me the rest of my life.”

Despite the title, Young said he was disappointed for his team, which ended the years losers of four straight.

“I’d trade the batting title for a championship in a heartbeat,” he said.

Rangers rookie Kameron Loe (9-6), hoping for a spot in the Rangers’ rotation next season, allowed three earned runs on seven hits in 5 2-3 innings.

The Angels also had home-field advantage in the first-round last year but were ousted by the Red Sox. In 2002, they didn’t have home-field advantage in the first round and won the World Series.

“We really don’t care,” Angels first baseman Darin Erstad said. “We got our foot in the door, and that’s all you ask for. Whatever happens, happens.”

The Rangers had built a 4-1 lead in the third after Gary Matthews Jr.’s triple scored Adrian Gonzalez and Jason Botts. Mark Teixeira and Hank Blalock added run-scoring singles in the inning.

But Rivera’s homer, his 15th, scored Vladimir Guerrero and Casey Kotchman to tie it at 4 in the fourth.

“In spring training, our goal was to get to the postseason, and we said anything less than that would be a disappointment,” Young said. “And that’s not going to change now. We know that with all the talent we have in our clubhouse, we hate to waste it by not playing in the postseason.”

Guerrero later doubled in the seventh, extending his hitting streak against the Rangers to 36 games. The Angels slugger has hit safely in every game against Texas in his career.

The Angels tacked on another run in the seventh when Rivera grounded into a double play with the bases loaded, scoring Garret Anderson. Orlando Cabrera’s sacrifice bunt in the eight scored Chone Figgins to extend the lead to three.


Young became the first Rangers slugger to win a batting title since Julio Franco in 1991. He hit safely in 36 of the last 39 games. … Figgins stole his major league-leading 62nd base. … Scioscia said his lineup will most likely remain “the way we’ve been doing it.” … The Rangers didn’t homer Sunday but finished the season with 260, four shy of the major league record set by Seattle in 1997.

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