ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) - A day after the Los Angeles Angels' playoff dreams ended, manager Mike Scioscia decided to empty his bench to see what the kids could do.
Turns out, not a whole lot. They certainly couldn't stop the Texas Rangers from rolling over them yet again.
Adrian Beltre, Mike Napoli and Nelson Cruz hit consecutive homers in the fifth inning, and the surging Rangers stayed on track for homefield advantage in the AL division series with a 10-3 victory Tuesday night, sending the Angels to their fifth loss in six games.
With five homers and 15 hits against a series of Angels pitchers who sometimes appeared to be throwing batting practice, Texas matched its club record with 95 victories. Perhaps the most painful blows were two homers by Napoli, the longtime Angels catcher who has career-highs with 28 homers and 72 RBIs for the their toughest AL West rivals.
``It feels good to do good here, but it's not like I'm extra hyped up,' Napoli said.
He didn't have to be against the Angels' second-tier pitching.
Scioscia provided a boost to the Rangers' homefield hopes when he scratched Ervin Santana and Jered Weaver from their final starts of the season, instead sending out two rookies - Tyler Chatwood and Garrett Richards - in Los Angeles' final two games.
``With only a couple of games left, I don't know if we were going to see much more than we already know about these young guys,' Scioscia said. ``But it's good to get them out there and let them get some get some energy out.'
The Angels have lost eight of 12 while missing the postseason for just the fourth time in 10 years. Howie Kendrick, the Angels' All-Star second baseman, sprained his left wrist in the fifth inning while stopping a grounder.
Chatwood (6-11) flopped in the final start of the 21-year-old right-hander's up-and-down season, yielding seven hits and four runs while failing to get out of the third inning. Jerome Williams wasn't much better on short rest, giving up a run in the fourth and the three straight homers to open the fifth.
``I learned what I need to work on and what I need to keep building on,' Chatwood said. ``I didn't do a very good job of getting ahead, and when I was ahead, I made pitches and they hit them. That's a pretty good lineup and a pretty deep one, top to bottom.'
Texas (95-66) has won five straight and nine of 10 while holding off Detroit (94-67), which beat Cleveland 9-6, for the AL's second-best record. The Rangers have improved their record in four straight seasons under manager Ron Washington, but they're not interested in just matching the club record set by Johnny Oates' club in 1999.
``My thoughts are, `Let's get one more and beat it,'' said Ian Kinsler, who homered and had three hits while joining the 30-30 club for the second time.
If Texas wins Wednesday's season finale or if the Tigers lose to the Indians, the Rangers will host the AL's wild-card winner on Friday. Detroit holds the tiebreaker if the clubs finish even, which would leave the Rangers opening the playoffs at Yankee Stadium.
``We'd rather play the first two games at home than on the road,' Napoli said. ``We feel comfortable playing anywhere, but to sleep in our own beds and have your normal routine feels great.'
Napoli hit a solo homer in the fifth and a two-run shot in the seventh. The Angels traded Napoli to Toronto in the offseason, but none of his three main replacements in Los Angeles has more than six homers or an average above .210.
A day after the AL West champion Rangers eliminated the Angels from the wild-card race, Colby Lewis (14-10) pitched six innings of three-hit ball, adding one more victory to his career-best total while throwing just 76 pitches in his final tuneup before the postseason. Lewis retired the final 11 batters he faced after Peter Bourjos' RBI triple in the third inning.
Kinsler connected for his 32nd homer during the Rangers' four-run third inning against Chatwood. Kinsler stole his 30th base in the fourth inning, earning just the third 30-30 season in club history - and a standing ovation from his teammates, who exuberantly crowded the dugout rail.
Beltre had three hits and homered in his fourth straight game, leading off the fifth with his 32nd. The slugging third baseman is propelling the defending AL champions into the postseason with a dynamite September, collecting 12 homers and 24 RBIs in the past 17 games.
NOTES: Angels OF Jeremy Moore got his first major league hit in the seventh inning when his line drive skipped off the glove of Michael Young, who started at shortstop for the first time since 2008 to freshen his skills for the postseason. Young, who won a Gold Glove at shortstop that season before yielding the position to Elvis Andrus, went 2 for 5 with an RBI single. ... Gil Velasquez had a pinch-hit single in the seventh for Los Angeles and another single in the ninth, getting the second and third hits of his major league career. Velasquez got his first with Boston back in 2008, but hadn't played in the majors since May 16, 2009.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved