Somehow, the rain shower that interrupted play late Monday night seemed like a perfect fit in the middle of a baseball game that had been stopped and stopped again.
In a game that was tied at the time of an eighth-inning rain delay, the end wasn’t immediately in sight anyway.
The Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Angels were locked at 2-2 in the ninth inning at press time in a game that had seen three replay reviews, two ejections, a 38-minute weather stoppage and the phones in the visitors bullpen go dead.
First baseman Mitch Moreland and Jeff Banister were long gone, ejected for arguing with trigger-happy umpires, and left-hander Martin Perez had just exited following another solid outing.
His performance should have been the story of the night. It certainly is the story of the big picture, with a fourth straight quality start bolstering his case to be in the Rangers’ postseason rotation.
But a disputed call in the sixth inning, which turned an easy out into an Angels run, was the difference between a Rangers lead and a tie game.
The Rangers’ magic number was five. Any combination of five Rangers wins or losses by the second-place Seattle Mariners would result in a second straight American League West title.
The Mariners were trailing at press time, as were the third-place Houston Astros.
Perez took a shutout into sixth inning and had allowed only one hit when Yunel Escobar sent a drive to right-center field with one out. The ball sent to the wall, where Nomar Mazara played it after it went beneath the padding.
Escobar tried to go to third and was out by several feet, but the Angels challenged that the play should have resulted in a ground-rule double. The replay official determined that the ball had been lodged under the wall, which should have resulted in a dead ball.
Banister quickly went to crew chief Joe West for an explanation and was quickly ejected. Moreland was quickly tossed by plate ump Kerwin Danley for disputing a third strike that was clearly off the plate. Moreland was thrown out walking away from Danley.
After Banister left the field, the Angels had a runner at second with one out instead of having none on and two outs. Mike Trout followed with a triple that hit first base and scored Escobar for a 1-1 tie.
Perez did well to strand Trout at third, getting Albert Pujols on a shallow flyball to right and C.J. Cron on a grounder to second, but he couldn’t get Carlos Perez with two outs in the seventh and a runner at second.
The Angels catcher sent a double to right field to score Jefry Marte, who was hit by a pitch to start the inning and went to second on a potential double-play grounder that Perez bobbled.
But Elvis Andrus pulled the Rangers even in the seventh with a two-out homer to straightaway center field. The shortstop has six home runs this season and was batting .297 when play resumed at 10:20 p.m.
Nomar Mazara delivered the game’s first run with a homer to left-center field by hitting Jhoulys Chacin’s first pitch of the fifth inning. The rookie has 19 home runs and would be the fifth Rangers player with 20 this season.
The blast gave Perez a lead it looked like he would never relinquish. Making his team- and career-high 31st start, he needed only 28 pitches to cover the first three innings against an Angels lineup that featured nine right-handed hitters.
Pujols had the lone hit in the first five innings, a two-out laser to center field for a single.
Perez, though, was assured of a second consecutive no-decision despite working into the seventh inning and allowing two runs for a second straight start. He allowed three hits Sept. 12 at Houston, a game the Rangers won 4-3 in extra innings.
He, right-hander A.J. Griffin and lefty Derek Holland remain in the hunt for the fourth spot in the playoff rotation. Lefty Cole Hamels and righties Yu Darvish and Colby Lewis have been lined up for the first three games.
Rangers vs. Angels
7:05 p.m. Tuesday, FSSW