With the American League's second wild-card spot up for grabs, David Price's complete-game effort led the Tampa Bay Rays to a 5-2 victory against the Texas Rangers in Arlington on Friday night.
Starting for the home team, rookie left-hander Martin Perez couldn't keep up. He loaded to bases in the first inning, and Delmon Young's sacrifice fly got the scoring started for Tampa Bay. Then, with two outs in the third, Evan Longoria drilled a two-run home run to cushion the lead.
That was enough support for Price. Despite career-long struggles against the Rangers, the lefty ace showed excellent poise and located 81 of 118 pitches for strikes. Manager Joe Maddon nearly signaled for right-hander Joel Peralta in the eighth inning, but decided to stick with the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner.
Wise decision. Price actually got better as the evening wore on, retiring 11 of the final 12 batters who came to the plate.
A combination of five Rangers relievers allowed two runs over three-and-two-third innings.
David DeJesus contributed a pinch-hit double that drove in Longoria in the top of the sixth. Sam Fuld added insurance with a stolen base in the ninth, as Tanner Scheppers' throw sailed into the outfield.
Texas' Nelson Cruz, fresh off a 50-game drug suspension, had virtually no impact. Starting at designated hitter, he was unable to exploit the platoon advantage versus Price, failing to reach base in all four of his plate appearances.
Price finishes the season tied for the American League lead with four complete games. DeJesus was only 1-for-23 in pinch-hitting situations before his clutch hit. Outfielder Kevin Kiermaier made his MLB debut as a late-inning defensive replacement.
Falling short in Game 163 means that this is the first time since 2009 that the Rangers didn't advance past the regular season.
The next challenge for Maddon's crew will be the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday as the 2013 playoffs officially get underway. The winner of that AL Wild Card Game goes on to face the Boston Red Sox in the best-of-five ALDS.
FINAL: TB 5, TEX 2
|1||Desmond Jennings||CF||1-3, BB, R|
|Sam Fuld||CF-RF||1-1, SB, R|
|2||Wil Myers||RF||0-2, 2 BB, K, R|
|3||Ben Zobrist||2B||1-5, 2 K|
|4||Evan Longoria||3B||3-4, K, 2B, HR, BB, 2 R, 2 RBI|
|5||Delmon Young||DH||0-3, SF, RBI|
|6||Sean Rodriguez||LF||0-2, 2 K|
|David DeJesus||PH-LF||1-2, 2B, RBI|
|7||James Loney||1B||0-3, K, BB|
|8||Yunel Escobar||SS||0-2, K, 2 BB|
|David Price (W, 10-8)||SP||9.0 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K|
|1||Ian Kinsler||2B||2-4, K, 2B, RBI|
|2||Elvis Andrus||SS||1-3, BB, SB, R|
|3||Alex Rios||RF||1-4, 2B, RBI|
|4||Adrian Beltre||3B||1-4, 2B|
|5||A.J. Pierzynski||C||0-4, K|
|6||Nelson Cruz||DH||0-4, K|
|8||Craig Gentry||LF||1-3, K, R|
|Martin Perez (L, 10-6)||SP||5.1 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 5 K|
|Alexi Ogando||RP||0.2 IP, 2 H, ER, 2 BB|
|Jason Frasor||RP||0.2 IP, 2 BB|
|Joakim Soria||RP||0.1 IP|
|Neal Cotts||RP||1.0 IP, BB, K|
|Tanner Scheppers||RP||1.0, H, R, 0 ER, 2 K|