Heading into Sunday evenings contest the Rays and Rangers had split the first two games of their three game series. The last team to win a 3-game series in Arlington was the Miami Marlins on July 1 through 3, 2011 but the Red Sox did take 3 out of 4 from August 22 through August 25. The Rangers were 13-1-1 in their last 15 home series including 8 series wins in a row, and they had won 6 straight rubber games including 3 at home. All those clean and pretty numbers can be reset as the Rays defeated the Rangers 5-2 and return home to meet Felix Hernandez on Monday evening.
David Price (4-1, 2.67 ERA) earned the victory (his first ever versus the Rangers) by working 6.1 innings giving up 2R/2ER on 6 hits, striking out 6 and walking 1. Price was followed by Joel Peralta who struck out Mitch Moreland and Ian Kinsler to end the seventh and a scoreless 8th and Fernando Rodney worked an eventful but scoreless ninth to earn his 7th save.
From the something to look into category, according to Brooks Baseball David Price used a change up 11% of the time in 2011. Against the Rangers he went with his changeup 24 times (13.6% of his pitches), 18 for strikes, and got 4 swing and misses.
The Rays offense was a team effort as 5 different players (Desmond Jennings, Ben Zobrist, Jeff Keppinger, Luke Scott, and Sean Rodriguez) drove in single runs for the Rays. They also had 5 extra base hits - doubles by Zobrist, Upton, and Scott and triples by Zobrist and Jennings. It was nice to see Zobrist break out of his recent slump as he had entered Sunday nights game mired in a slump with only 6 hits in his last 60 PAs and over his last 14 games he had hit .128 (6 for 47) with 14 strikeouts. He went 3-4 and the out was a loud out line drive to 3rd.
David Price was coming off a complete game shutout over the Los Angeles Angels on April 24th but the Rangers ended his scoreless streak and jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning on an RBI single by Josh Hamilton to score Elvis Andrus who had walked and stole second. Hamilton was forced out at 2nd base and came back to the dugout grimacing and holding his back and was removed from the game.
The Rays came right back in the top of the second to take a 3-1 lead. Ben Zobrist led off the inning by driving a ball past a diving Nelson Cruz and into the right field corner for a leadoff triple and scored on a Jeff Keppinger single. Keppinger advanced to 3rd base on a double by B.J. Upton and came in to score on a Luke Scott double but B.J. Upton was only able to advance to third but came home on a sacrifice fly by Sean Rodriguez.
The Rays extended their lead to 4-1in the top of the 3rd on a RBI double by Ben Zobrist plated Carlos Pena who had led the inning with a walk. Ben Zobrist tried to score on a 2-out single by B.J. Upton but right fielder Nelson Cruz made a strong throw to nail Zobrist at the plate.
The Rangers cut the Rays lead to 4-2 in the bottom of the 5th inning after back to back singles by Yorvit Torrealba and Craig Gentry. The runners moved up to 2nd and 3rd on an Ian Kinsler groundout to 2b Jeff Keppinger. Elvis Andrus worked the count full and hit a slow roller to shortstop Sean Rodriguez to score Torrealba and move Gentry to 3rd base. With 2-outs Price had the matchup that he wanted in left handed hitter David Murphy, who had come into the game to replace Josh Hamilton, and he struck him out to end the inning.
Price worked a scoreless 6th inning thanks in large part to the wind and the defense behind him. Adrian Beltre hit a ball into the wind that B.J. Upton tracked down and made a nice play at the wall. Micheal Young followed Beltre and sent a sinking line drive into shallow left field that Desmond Jennings charged and made a sliding catch.
The Rays pushed the lead to 5-2 in the 6h inning on a Desmond Jennings triple that scored Sean Rodriguez from second. Rodriguez worked a 1-out walk and aggressively tagged up to 2nd base on a fly out to centerfield off the bat of Chris Gimenez.
David Price looked to be done after 104 pitches through 6 innings but Joe Maddon allowed him to come out to begin the 7th inning and after giving up a lead off single to Mike Napoli he struck out Yorvit Torrealba and was removed for Joel Peralta. Peralta struck out Mitch Moreland to bring up Ian Kinsler. Kinsler struck out after an 11 pitch at-bat on what appeared to be a questionable pitch which resulted in Ron Washington being ejected on his 60th birthday.
The Rays had a golden opportunity to add a run in the top of the eighth after Evan Longoria singled to lead off the inning and advanced to 3rd on Ben Zobrist's 3rd hit of the game. After Matt Joyce struck out there was some sort of confusion as to whether a squeeze play was on or to the type of squeeze (suicide or safety). Evan Longoria came down the line but B.J. Upton did not lay the bunt down and Evan Longoira was thrown out trying to return to 3rd.
The bottom of the ninth began with rain falling and intermittent flashes of lightning followed by loud thunder. Rodney retired Micheal Young on a fly out to right for the first out but Nelson Cruz singled and Mike Napoli was hit by a pitch to bring the tying run to the plate. Rodney was able to strike out Yorvit Torrealba for the second out but Mitch Moreland reached on an error on an squibber off the bat to load the bases. Ian Kinsler came to the plate representing the winning run but lined out back to the mound to end the game.