ANAHEIM — It would have seemed crazy a month ago for Luis Rengifo to be batting third.
But this is what it’s come to for the Angels. Rengifo has actually been the Angels best hitter for a month.
He delivered his biggest hit with a two-run double with two outs in the bottom of the eighth, capping a five-run inning and leading the Angels to a 9-7 victory over the Texas Rangers on Saturday night.
Rengifo has hit .348 with an .899 OPS since June 29.
Rengifo’s double ended the Angels scoring on a night that Shohei Ohtani started it with his 22nd homer, a three-run shot in the third.
The Angels trailed 7-4 in the bottom of the eighth. Max Stassi led off with a single, his second hit of the game. An out later, Brandon Marsh had one of his better plate appearances of the season. Marsh, who has the highest strikeout rate in the majors, fell behind 0-and-2, but eventually worked a 12-pitch walk.
David Fletcher then yanked a two-run double down the left field line, cutting the deficit to 7-6.
Pinch-hitter Kurt Suzuki struck out and the Rangers then intentionally walked Shohei Ohtani. Taylor Ward drew a walk to load the bases, and left-hander Brett Martin then uncorked a wild pitch to bring in tying run.
Rengifo then gave the Angels their first lead since starter Chase Silseth put them in an early hole.
Silseth has a 6.59 ERA after allowing five runs in four innings in his seventh big league start.
The Angels drafted Silseth last July in the 11th round. He started this season at Double-A, and pitched well enough to jump all the way to the majors. Silseth started with a couple strong outings against the Oakland A’s, but it’s been a struggle since then.
One of his issues is that he’s consistently lost his velocity as he’s gone deeper into the game. Coming into Saturday’s game, Silseth had averaged 96.0 mph with his fastball in the first time through the lineup, and 94.9 mph in the second time through.
On Saturday night, he retired six of seven hitters in the first two innings, with his fastball at 94-97 mph. In the third, he issued a leadoff walk. Two outs later, in his second time through, his fastballs were 92-93 mph. He issued a walk to Jonah Heim, and then back-to-back run-scoring singles to Nathaniel Lowe and Adolis Garcia.
The Angels gave Silseth a second life when Ohtani blasted a 424-foot homer. Ohtani’s homer put the Angels up 3-2.
The lead didn’t last long, though, because when Silseth came out for the fourth, he continued to struggle. He walked two hitters and then gave up a three-run homer to Marcus Semien, who blasted a hanging splitter over the center field fence.
Touki Toussaint followed Silseth to the mound and gave up a two-run homer to Meibrys Viloria, putting the Angels down 7-4.
Toussaint, however, held the Rangers scoreless over the next two innings, giving the Angels a chance to come back.
More to come on this story.