Final, Rays 5-2: The Rangers crowd is stunned.
David Price tossed a 1-2-3 ninth inning to finish what he started. Price provided a gritty, complete-game effort as the Rays earned a 5-2 victory over the Rangers in the teams’ all-important tiebreaker.
Tampa Bay will now head to Cleveland for a date with the Indians in Wednesday’s American League wild-card game. The winner of that contest will play Boston in the ALDS.
Monday’s victory wasn’t Price’s best start, but it was one of his most gutsy performances to date. The left-hander gave up two runs on seven hits while striking out four and walking one. He threw 118 pitches while grinding out the win, and he constantly made sure that the Rangers didn’t build too much momentum.
The Rays never trailed in Monday’s game. Delmon Young’s sacrifice fly gave the Rays a 1-0 lead before the Rangers even came to the plate, and Evan Longoria’s two-run homer in the third inning gave Tampa Bay all of the offense it would need. Longoria led the way with a game-high three hits.
Alex Cobb will face Danny Salazar in Wednesday’s wild card game. As mentioned, the winner will face the Red Sox in the ALDS, which opens up at Fenway Park on Friday.
Good night, everyone.
Mid 9th, Rays 5-2: Sam Fuld’s aggressiveness on the bases allowed the Rays to tack on a run.
Fuld led off the ninth inning with a single against Tanner Scheppers. He then took third base as Wil Myers grounded to Adrian Beltre at third base.
Fuld took off for third with Ben Zobrist batting, and Scheppers stepped off and fired an errant throw. The ball sailed up the left field line as Fuld crossed with Tampa Bay’s fifth run.
Joe Maddon is going to give David Price a chance to finish what he started. Price is going back out for the ninth inning.
End 8th, Rays 4-2: Joe Maddon’s faith was rewarded.
Maddon stuck with David Price in the eighth inning despite Joel Peralta seemingly being ready in the bullpen. Price retired Leonys Martin to begin the inning, but then gave up a one-out double to Ian Kinsler.
Rather than make a move with some right-handed hitters coming up, Maddon continued to stick with his ace left-hander, and it worked out well for Tampa Bay.
Elvis Andrus tried to bunt his way on. His bunt bid traveled up the first base line, and Price made a fantastic play. The lefty scooped the ball, and flipped it to first base with his glove to record the second out of the inning.
Kinsler advanced to third base on Andrus’ bunt, but he never crossed the plate. Alex Rios grounded to short, leaving Price visibly fired up as he walked off the mound.
Mid 8th, Rays 4-2: Neal Cotts worked a scoreless eighth inning for Texas.
David DeJesus grounded to second base before Cotts fanned James Loney. Cotts put Loney away with a slider that had some good bite to it.
Yunel Escobar made Cotts work a little bit. Cotts jumped ahead in the count, 0-2, but then missed with four straight pitches for a two-out walk.
The Rays couldn’t build anything, though, as Jose Molina grounded back to the mound.
End 7th, Rays 4-2: That was a big-time inning from David Price.
The Texas crowd was buzzing after a missed call ended the Rays’ seventh-inning threat. Price silenced them by retiring the Rangers in order.
Nelson Cruz, Mitch Moreland and Craig Gentry failed to get anything going as Price quickly squashed Texas’ momentum.
Mid 7th, Rays 4-2: If the Rangers stage a comeback, we’ll all look back at the play that ended the top of the seventh inning.
Joakim Soria replaced Jason Frasor after Evan Longoria worked Tampa Bay’s second walk of the inning. Soria needed two pitches to escape the jam, even though it required an awful call.
Delmon Young hit a blooper into center field. Leonys Martin charged in and dived to make the play. Martin trapped it — as the ball bounced before ending up in his glove — but the umpires ruled that he made the catch.
The botched call took a Rays run off the scoreboard and ended the inning. It’s also unacceptable given the fact that there are six umpires for this game.
On the bright side, this won’t be an issue next season with expanded video replay. Don’t tell that to Texas, though.
10:29 p.m., Rays 4-2: Jason Frasor couldn’t complete the seventh inning.
Frasor recorded two outs but walked two while throwing 22 pitches in the seventh. Ron Washington will now make another call to the bullpen, and bring in Joakim Soria with two on and two outs.
End 6th, Rays 4-2: Did you feel that? That was the momentum starting to shift.
Elvis Andrus singled into center field with one out in the sixth inning. Andrus, who was picked off earlier in the game, made sure that the same thing didn’t happen this time around. He swiped second base with Alex Rios at the plate. Andrus now has 42 steals this season.
Rios followed Andrus’ stolen base with a drive to left-center field. It almost left the yard, but it instead banged off the wall. Andrus crossed the plate as Rios cruised into second base with a double.
To David Price’s credit, the left-hander rebounded to retire Adrian Beltre and A.J. Pierzynski. Beltre grounded to short, and Pierzynski shattered his bat while grounding back to the mound. The Rangers are still very much alive, though.
Mid 6th, Rays 4-1: Ron Washington turned to his bullpen, and Joe Maddon turned to his bench. Maddon’s decision paid off.
Evan Longoria greeted Alexi Ogando with a one-out double. Longoria, who homered back in the third inning, is now a triple shy of the cycle.
Maddon called upon David DeJesus to pinch hit for Sean Rodriguez after Delmon Young’s groundout moved Longoria up to third base. DeJesus ripped an RBI double down the right field line.
Ogando walked James Loney intentionally with first base open, and then walked Yunel Escobar unintentionally, which loaded the bases. Jose Molina lined out to second base.
9:48 p.m., Rays 3-1: Martin Perez is done after 5 1/3 innings.
Perez struck out Ben Zobrist to open up the sixth inning. The lefty has retired eight in a row since Evan Longoria’s two-run homer, but Ron Washington will now turn to his bullpen with Texas trailing by two runs.
Alexi Ogando will take over on the mound. All in all, it was a decent outing for Perez, who actually settled down nicely after some early struggles.
End 5th, Rays 3-1: David Price has elevated his game thus far.
Price yielded a one-out single but otherwise took care of business in a scoreless fifth inning.
Nelson Cruz grounded out to lead off the inning. He’s now 0-for-2 in his return from a 50-game suspension.
Mitch Moreland followed Cruz’s groundout with a single into left-center field. Moreland fought off a pitch in on the hands for the one-out knock.
Price rebounded to retire Craig Gentry and Leonys Martin. Gentry struck out, and Martin grounded to first base.
Mid 5th, Rays 3-1: Martin Perez has retired seven straight since Evan Longoria’s home run.
Jose Molina, Desmond Jennings and Wil Myers failed to generate any offense for Tampa Bay in the fifth inning.
Jennings was retired for the first time in the fifth. He had singled and walked before grounding to short.
Myers smoked a line drive to the left side with two outs. It was right at Adrian Beltre, though.
End 4th, Rays 3-1: No one reached base in the fourth inning. David Price followed Martin Perez’s 1-2-3 inning with a perfect frame of his own.
Alex Rios, who has been huge for Texas down the stretch, lined one to left field for the first out.
Adrian Beltre and A.J. Pierzynski grounded to third base and shortstop, respectively.
Mid 4th, Rays 3-1: Martin Perez enjoyed a quick inning in the fourth.
Perez retired Sean Rodriguez, James Loney and Yunel Escobar in order.
Rodriguez struck out swinging, Loney flied out to left-center field and Escobar grounded softly back to Perez.
Leonys Martin made a nice running grab for the second out. Loney likely had visions of a gap shot, but Martin tracked it down before banging into the wall.
End 3rd, Rays 3-1: The Rangers are on the scoreboard.
Craig Gentry got things going in the third inning with a leadoff single. He was off and running, and moved up to second base when Leonys Martin hit a chopper down to Evan Longoria at third base.
Ian Kinsler knocked in Texas’ first run with a blooper into right-center field. Gentry crossed the plate as Kinsler reached with a one-out single.
Elvis Andrus popped out for the second out. His pop up took Longoria over near the stands, but the Gold Glover had just enough room to make a play.
Alex Rios dug in with two outs. He’ll have to take his cuts in the fourth inning, though, as David Price picked off Kinsler at first base. It’ll officially go down as a caught stealing, but it’s the second time in this game that Price has caught a runner leaning.
Mid 3rd, Rays 3-0: Evan Longoria loves the big stage.
Longoria hammered a two-run homer in the third inning to extend Tampa Bay’s lead to 3-0.
Desmond Jennings started the inning with a six-pitch walk. Martin Perez rebounded to retire Wil Myers (strikeout) and Ben Zobrist (flyout), but Longoria drilled a first-pitch fastball to right-center field. Leonys Martin leaped at the wall, but the ball sailed over his glove and beyond the fence for Longoria’s 32nd home run of the season.
Delmon Young popped out to end the inning, but the Rays have seized the momentum early.
End 2nd, Rays 1-0: The Rangers spoiled a leadoff double in the second inning.
Adrian Beltre started the frame with a line drive down the right field line. The play ended with a standup double, although Beltre looked terrible running the bases. The Rangers third baseman is dealing with a hamstring issue, and it was obvious in the second inning.
A.J. Pierzynski struck out looking on a fastball on the corner for the first out. He wasn’t a fan of the call, and expressed some displeasure before heading back to the dugout.
Nelson Cruz then made his triumphant return. On the road, he’ll likely hear some boos. But in Arlington, it was chants of “Cruuuuz.” Cruz hit a rocket after receiving a standing ovation. It was right at first baseman James Loney for the second out.
Mitch Moreland flied out to left field to end the inning.
Mid 2nd, Rays 1-0: Martin Perez settled down nicely in the second inning.
Perez, who got off to a shaky start, enjoyed a 1-2-3 second. James Loney, Yunel Escobar and Jose Molina went down in order.
Loney grounded to second base, and Jose Molina grounded to third base. In between, Perez struck out Escobar swinging.
End 1st, Rays 1-0: David Price used his pickoff move to avoid trouble in the first inning.
Price walked Elvis Andrus with one out after striking out Ian Kinsler. Andrus then kept trying to build a big lead, and Price finally caught him leaning. Andrus tried to dive back into the bag, but his hand hit the foot of first baseman James Loney.
Alex Rios grounded to short to end the inning.
Mid 1st, Rays 1-0: Martin Perez had a rough go of it in the first inning, and the Rays have struck first.
Perez gave up three hits and a walk before retiring a batter. He benefited from an out at second base to begin the game, though, as Desmond Jennings was thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double.
Wil Myers walked with one out, and Ben Zobrist and Evan Longoria followed with back-to-back singles. Myers had to hold up at third base on Longoria’s single, which meant that Delmon Young dug in with the bases loaded.
Young lifted a fly ball to deep right-center field. Leonys Martin raced back to make the grab, but Myers tagged up and scored from third base.
Perez avoided any further damage by striking out Sean Rodriguez.
8:09 p.m.: The action is underway in Texas.
7:59 p.m.: We have a long way to go before we know who will be playing the Red Sox at Fenway Park over the weekend. We at least know what time the action will be kicking off in Boston, though.
Game 1 of the Red Sox-versus-whoever series will be Friday at 3:07 p.m. Game 2 will be Saturday at 5:37 p.m.
7:31 p.m.: David Price and Martin Perez will square off in a battle of southpaws Monday.
Price is 1-2 with a 3.78 ERA in five September starts, and he’s 7-3 with a 3.21 ERA in 14 starts on the road this season. Texas hasn’t been kind to the Rays ace, though, so the Rangers have that working in their favor.
Price is 1-4 with a 5.98 ERA in eight career regular-season starts versus the Rangers, including 1-2 with a 10.26 ERA in Texas. Price is 0-3 with a 4.66 ERA in three postseason starts against the Rangers.
There’s no doubt that this is the biggest start of Perez’s life. The 22-year-old has only faced the Rays once, and it came in relief. Overall, he is 2-2 with a 3.48 ERA in September.
6:59 p.m.: Monday marks Nelson Cruz’s return to the Rangers’ lineup. Cruz, of course, was suspended 50 games for his involvement in the Biogenesis scandal. The outfielder last played Aug. 4.
Believe it or not, there are some who are up in arms about the idea of Texas adding Cruz for its one-game tiebreaker. The Giants didn’t bring back Melky Cabrera for their playoff run following his 50-game suspension last season, and there is this belief among some that the Rangers should take the same approach. I think that logic is stupid.
The Rangers almost weren’t in this one-game tiebreaker because of their offensive woes down the stretch. If you have a chance to add a guy as talented as Cruz with the season on the line, you do it. Cruz served his suspension, stayed around the team, stayed in shape and expressed regret. What more do you want from the guy?
It’s also worth noting that Cruz is 9-for-21 with three homers in his career against David Price.
6:40 p.m.: The Rays and Rangers have released their 163rd starting lineups of the season. Check them out below.
Ian Kinsler, 2B
Elvis Andrus, SS
Alex Rios, RF
Adrian Beltre, 3B
A.J. Pierzynski, C
Nelson Cruz, DH
Mitch Moreland, 1B
Craig Gentry, LF
Leonys Martin, CF
Martin Perez. LHP (10-5, 3.55 ERA)
Desmond Jennings, CF
Wil Myers, RF
Ben Zobrist, 2B
Evan Longoria, 3B
Delmon Young, DH
Sean Rodriguez, LF
James Loney, 1B
Yunel Escobar, SS
Jose Molina, C
David Price, LHP (9-8, 3.39 ERA)
6 p.m.: The Indians are waiting. The Red Sox are waiting. The Rays and Rangers will be battling.
The Rays and Rangers finished the regular season with identical 91-71 records and one game behind the Indians in the American League wild-card race. That means that Tampa Bay and Texas will square off in a one-game tiebreaker in Arlington on Monday to determine which team will face Cleveland in the wild-card game at Progressive Field on Wednesday.
All three teams won Sunday to set up this situation, and all three teams have one thing in mind — punching their ticket to the ALDS. Whichever team wins Wednesday’s wild-card game — between the Indians and Tuesday’s tiebreaker winner — will earn a date with the Red Sox, beginning on Friday. Boston has been baseball’s most consistent team all season, but each of the three teams vying for the wild card spot would kill for an opportunity to take on the AL’s top dog.
Tuesday’s Rays-Rangers tiebreaker should be a doozy. David Price will go up against Martin Perez with the season on the line. Price hasn’t exactly pitched well in Texas in the past, but Rays manager Joe Maddon has a ton of faith in his ace to get the job done in Game No. 163.
Tuesday’s first pitch is scheduled for 8:07 p.m. NESN.com has live blog coverage for you, so be sure to come back early and often.