The Tampa Bay Rays held on to defeat the Texas Rangers 5-2 in a tiebreaker, advancing to play the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday in the AL Wild Card game at Progressive Field.
Despite a brutal umpire miscall that cost the Rays a run late in the game in Arlington, they held on with thanks to a final insurance run in the bottom of the eighth. Ace David Price, who seemed to perhaps be done after seven innings, was left in the game to toss the 118-pitch complete game. It’s the fourth playoff appearance in six years for Tampa Bay and manager Joe Maddon.
Third baseman Evan Longoria hit a two-run homer, a double and a single in the victory. Delmon Young and David DeJesus contributed the other two RBI. Meanwhile, the loss completed an epic decline for the Rangers, who started September with a 2-13 stretch before catching fire to finish the regular season tied with the Rays for the second Wild Card spot.
Tampa Bay is expected to toss right-hander Alex Cobb (11-3, 2.76 ERA) against Cleveland’s Danny Salazar (2-3, 3.12 ERA). Cobb held the Indians scoreless in his only 2013 game against the team this season, earning the win with a sparkling 7.1 inning performance in his first start of the season. The rookie Salazar has not yet faced the Rays in his 10-game MLB career. He was announced as the Wild Card starter following Sunday afternoon’s clinching victory.
[Related: When a Win is more than a Win]