Astros clinch final AL playoff spot despite loss to Rangers

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Texas Rangers' Joey Gallo, center, is doused as the team celebrates his baseball game-ending fielder's choice that scored Isiah Kiner-Falefa in the 10th inning of a baseball game against the Houston Astros in Arlington, Texas, Friday, Sept. 25, 2020. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

ARLINGTON, Texas – Ryan Pressly had no interest in waiting to see if the Astros would get the help they needed to clinch the last spot in the expanded American League playoffs after the Houston reliever couldn’t finish it himself when he was a strike away.

The Los Angeles Dodgers pitched in anyway by beating the Angels to give Houston a franchise-record fourth straight trip to the postseason, and a shot at redemption after the offseason sign-stealing scandal that tarnished a 2017 World Series championship.

Joey Gallo’s run-scoring fielder’s choice in the 10th inning completed a 5-4 victory for Texas as the Rangers rallied from a run down in each of the last two innings Friday night, starting with Ronald Guzman’s two-out, two-strike solo homer off Pressly in the ninth.

“Who cares?” Pressly, who had his fourth blown save in 16 chances, said of staying up to see what happened with the Angels, before LA lost. “We’ve got to take care of business first.”

Actually, they don't. The Astros (29-29) just had to wait a couple of extra hours to wrap up second place in the AL West, which became official with the Angels' 9-5 loss.

Now Houston can start planning for a wild-card matchup that could be against Oakland, which ended a three-year run atop the AL West for the defending AL champion.

Currently the only one of eight AL playoff qualifiers in the pandemic-shortened season without a winning record, the Astros will try to put the cheating scandal behind them, but with an injury-plagued roster missing ace Justin Verlander, young slugger Yordan Álvarez and possibly closer Roberto Osuna.

Houston will be led by the first manager to take five different franchises to the playoffs.