David Price pitched a complete game as the Tampa Bay Rays beat the Texas Rangers 5-2 to claim the American League’s second wild-card spot.
The Rays (92-71) visit the Cleveland Indians (92-70) tomorrow in the AL wild-card game, with the winner advancing to a best-of-five division series against the Boston Red Sox (97-65), who have home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. The Oakland Athletics (96-66) meet the Detroit Tigers (93-69) in the other AL division series. Both series are scheduled to start Oct. 4.
“The last time I pitched against these guys I beat them as well,” Price said in a televised interview. “We did it again tonight and it’s pretty special.”
The Rays and Rangers finished Major League Baseball’s regular season with 91-71 records, one game behind the Indians. Wild-card berths are given to the two non-division winners in each league with the best records.
The result takes the Rays to the postseason for the fourth time, with each visit coming in the past six years, while Texas misses the playoffs for the first time in four years. The Rangers lost in the AL wild-card game last year after eliminating Tampa Bay on their way to losing in the World Series in 2010 and 2011.
Delmon Young drove in Wil Myers with a bases-loaded sacrifice fly in the first inning to give Tampa Bay the lead last night at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Texas.
It was 3-0 in the third inning as Evan Longoria hit a two-run homer off Rangers starter Martin Perez, who failed to become the first rookie pitcher to win a tiebreaker since Gene Bearden of the Indians in 1948.
Craig Gentry led off the bottom of the third for Texas with a single, advanced to second on a Leonys Martin groundout and scored on a single by Ian Kinsler.
Texas manager Ron Washington removed Perez with one out in the sixth and Alexi Ogando immediately surrendered a double to Longoria, who moved to third on Young’s groundout and made it 4-1 on a double by pinch-hitter David DeJesus.
In the bottom of the sixth, Elvis Andrus hit a single, stole second and scored on a double by Alex Rios.
Myers was denied a chance to score another run for Tampa Bay in the seventh when Young was called out, ending the inning, when replays showed his line drive bounced before being caught by Martin.
Sam Fuld led off the Rays’ ninth with a single, got to second on a Myers groundout and made it 5-2 by stealing third and coming around to score when third baseman Adrian Beltre was unable to reach reliever Tanner Scheppers’s wild throw.
The game ended when Nelson Cruz grounded out. Cruz went 0-for-4 for Texas in his return following a 50-game suspension. Cruz led the Rangers with 27 home runs and 76 runs batted in when he was suspended by MLB for the rest of the regular season on Aug. 5 for his connection to a Miami-area clinic accused of supplying players with banned performance-enhancing drugs.
Price, who won last year’s Cy Young Award as the best pitcher in the AL, surrendered two runs on seven hits and struck out four in nine innings.
The Pittsburgh Pirates host the Cincinnati Reds today in the National League’s wild-card game. The winner advances to face the St. Louis Cardinals in a best-of-five series.
The Atlanta Braves play the Los Angeles Dodgers in the other NL division series, which starts Oct. 3.