Win gives Angels some clarity, but not much

Win gives Angels some clarity, but not much

ARLINGTON -- The Angels head into Sunday's regular-season finale against the Rangers with hope that it isn't necessarily the end of their regular season.

After another Astros win in Arizona on Saturday night, the Angels' only postseason chance is through a Monday tiebreaker, also known as Game 163.

Explaining possible tiebreakers for postseason

Earlier on Saturday, the Angels mounted a furious five-run, ninth-inning rally at Globe Life Park to win, 11-10, and move only a half-game behind the Astros for the second American League Wild Card spot. But the Astros -- just 31-47 on the road heading into a weekend series from Chase Field -- beat the D-backs for a second straight night to move a full game up once again.

Now, for the Angels, it's simple: If they win and the Astros lose, they'll play the tiebreaker at Minute Maid Park in Houston, by virtue of the Astros winning the season series, 10-9. If they lose or the Astros win, they're mathematically eliminated from postseason contention.

The Astros can tie the Rangers for first place in the AL West -- a scenario that would result in a tiebreaker from Arlington -- if they win and the Angels win. If the Astros win, the Rangers win and the Yankees lose, they'd host Tuesday's AL Wild Card Game presented by Budweiser because they won four of seven in their season series against the Yankees.

The Angels now know they have to win at least one extra game to advance to that Wild Card Game, which for them would only be possible from Yankee Stadium. Garrett Richards will start on three days' rest on Sunday, and if they advance to the tiebreaker, Angels manager Mike Scioscia will probably go with a bullpen game started by Nick Tropeano.

That would free up Andrew Heaney to start the Wild Card Game on normal rest, or perhaps even Jered Weaver on short rest.

They can't look that far ahead, though.

"We have one [game] left, and the only thing we have to do is win it -- win the game," center fielder Mike Trout said shortly after the Angels' win and long before the Astros also won. "We can't control what Houston does. We have to worry about ourselves and see what happens."

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.