Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Rays Win Play-In Game, Head to Cleveland for Another

The Tampa Bay Rays marched into Arlington and beat the Texas Rangers 5-2 behind David Price’s masterful complete game performance on the last day of the regular season. Evan Longoria provided another heroic showing on the final game of the season to lead the Rays to their fourth playoff birth in the last six years.

The Rays jumped out to an early one-run lead in the first inning after Delmon Young hit a sacrifice fly with the bases loaded. Rangers’ starter Martin Perez wiggled out of trouble but the Rays provided Price with an early lead. The lead was padded in the third inning after Longoria belted an opposite field two-run homerun with two outs. The Rangers got a run back in the third inning when Craig Gentry lead off with a single and was driven home by Ian Kinsler, but Price had begun to settle down on the mound.
In the sixth inning Evan Longoria doubled and advanced to third, pinch-hitter David DeJesus also doubled down the right field line to give the Rays a 4-1 lead and that was all the run support that David Price required. Texas got a run back in the bottom of the inning when Elvis Andrus singled and stole second. Alex Rios doubled high of the left field wall to once again cut the Rays lead to two but Price settled down and got out of the inning without any further damage.

Sam Fuld entered the game in the seventh inning as a defensive replacement for Desmond Jennings, who has been hampered by injuries lately, and Fuld provided a gigantic insurance run in the top of the ninth inning. Fuld singled to lead off the inning and after advancing to second base on a ground out Fuld caught everyone in attendance by surprise when he took off for third. Rangers’ pitcher Tanner Scheppers was completely fooled by Fuld’s steal and his throw to third base was wild and Fuld easily scored to give Tampa Bay a 5-2 lead in the ninth inning.

Joe Maddon showed his complete faith in David Price and allowed the Rays’ lefty to go out and pitch the ninth inning. Adrian Beltre lead off the inning and hit a fly-ball to deep left field for the first out, off the bat the ball seemed to be headed for the seats in left but it turned out to be a warning track fly ball. Price then forced A.J. Pierzynski to ground out to second base and fittingly faced Nelson Cruz for the final out of the Rangers’ season. Cruz was activated for the final game after finishing his 50-game suspension for PED’s and went 0-for-4. Price forced the Rangers DH to ground out to Yunel Escobar and send the Rays into the playoffs and the Rangers home for the winter.

Price was deservedly mobbed on the mound after completing perhaps the biggest start of his career. Price’s struggles against the Rangers, and Nelson Cruz, were well documented but the starter showed why he is the best left-handed pitcher in the American League. Price allowed seven hits but only one walk and four strikeouts; he also picked off two runners early in the game and truly earned his tenth victory of the year.

The Rays will have to do it all over again on Wednesday night in Cleveland and the team will send Alex Cobb to the mound to face Danny Salazar for the Indians. Salazar has started only ten games in the big leagues and was 2-3 this season with a 3.12 ERA. Cobb was 11-3 with a 2.76 ERA in 22 starts this season.

1 comment:

  1. Love the Rays but their season ands tonight in Cleveland.


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