They needed an extra day but in Game #163 the Tampa Bay Rays defeated the Texas Rangers by a final score of 5-2 to gain entry into the post season for the fourth time in the last six seasons. They will celebrate the accomplishment in Arlington before flying to Cleveland on Tuesday morning and will take on the Indians on Wednesday evening in a 1-game playoff. The winner will head to Boston to take on the Red Sox in the American League Division Series.
Prior to the game there was a lot of chatter about the negative numbers of David Price against the Rangers. A career mark of 1-4 with a 5.98 ERA in 8 starts, 1-2 with a 10.26 ERA in 4 starts at the Ballpark in Arlington, and 0-3 with a 4.66 ERA in 3 post-season starts.
Those numbers didn’t seem to bother Price (10-8, 3.33 ERA) who tossed a complete game victory allowing just 2R/ER on 7 hits striking out 4 and walking 1. He was aided by erasing two base runners on pick off plays.
R0n Washington had remarked that he wanted his team to be aggressive against Price and the Rays but it was Price who set the tone on the bases with an early message by picking off Elvis Andrus in the bottom of the first inning. Ian Kinsler did not heed the message that the Rangers would have to tether themselves to the bases as he was picked off attempting to steal on first move in the bottom of the 3rd.
The Rays offense helped Price along by providing him an early 1-0 lead before he took the mound. It was an inning that felt like it should have resulted in more runs as the Rays had 3 singles and a walk but Desmond Jennings was thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double to begin the game. The Rays scored on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Delmon Young.
Evan Longoria added to the lead in the top of the 3rd by lofting a home run to right center field to plate Desmond Jennings and pushed the Rays lead to 3-0. Accoring to STATS Inc. in season finale’s Longoria is now hitting .579 (11 for 19) in those finales with seven homers and 10 RBIs.
The Rangers cut the lead to 3-1 in the bottom of the 3rd on a Ian Kinsler RBI single and then the teams traded runs in the 6th inning.
The 7th inning featured what could have been a costly blown call against the Rays that will be reviewed by instant replay next season.
Although it was only a regular season game Major League Baseball ran it with a 6-man crew but that didn’t stop a bad call in a crucial situation from interjecting itself into the game.
With 2-outs and runners at 1st and 2nd Delmon Young sent a soft line drive to center that Leonys Martin trapped but the left field umpire called it an out to end the inning.
As the Rays hit in the top of the 7th inning the camera kept panning to the bullpen where Joel Peralta was warming up but when the game came back from commercial break there was David Price on the mound to start the 8th. The broadcasters surmised that with Peralta throwing 20 pitches yesterday in Toronto and a left handed hitter due up that Price would face the one batter and shorten the inning for Peralta.
Price retired Leonys Martin but Joe Maddon didn’t come out of the dugout. Ian Kinsler and the heart of the Rangers line up was due up so surely if someone reached base Peralta would get the call, right? Well, Kinsler doubled and Maddon didn’t come out of the dugout. Elvis Andrus then attempted to bunt for a hit and forced Price to field the ball and shovel from his glove to James Loney for the second out. The play used a lot of Price’s energy maybe now would be a good time to remove him from the game? Nope, Maddon kept his feet in the dugout and Price rewarded the decision by retiring Alex Rios to end the inning.
The Rays added a run in the top of the 9th as Sam Fuld led off with a single and advanced to second on a Wil Myers ground out. With Ben Zobrist batting Fuld attempted to steal third base. Rangers pitcher Tanner Scheppers threw wildly past 3rd baseman Adrian Beltre and Fuld came in to score the Rays 5th run.
While the Rays were hitting in the top of the 9th the camera kept flashing to Fernando Rodney warming up in the bullpen but once again when the game returned from commercial break there was Price in the center of the diamond.
Price didn’t have the soft part of the lineup and was already at 108 pitches entering the innings but had a 3 run cushion to work with.
The party was on and the Rays will celebrate through the evening. Their next game will be Wednesday evening in Cleveland as Alex Cobb makes his biggest start of his career against rookie flame thrower Danny Salazar.