Monday, September 30, 2013

Winner Moves On: Tampa Bay Rays battle Texas Rangers in Game 163

David Price hopes to get the Rays into the
postseason for the fourth time since 2008.
Photo courtesy of Keith Allison
Is there anything more exciting than MLB’s wild card play-in game for the right to move to the divisional playoff series? Sure, it’s the one-game-winner-moves on for the right to play in the wild card play-in game!

Tonight, the Texas Rangers face off against the Tampa Bay Rays in the AL Wild Card tie-breaker game in Arlington, Texas.

The Rangers were once in a free fall and looked to the odd team out between them, the Rays and the Cleveland Indians. But, Texas won their last seven games taking advantage of one slip by the Rays to match records at 91-71.

The winner will fly out to Cleveland to face the Tribe Wednesday night for the right to face American League East champion Boston in the best of five ALDS.

The Rangers will have Nelson Cruz available for matchup against the Rays. Cruz was one of the players suspended by Major League Baseball for his part in the Biogenesis performance-enhancing drug scandal. Cruz accepted his penalty and game 162 was his last to be served.

David Price is on the bump for the Rays against rookie Martin Perez for the Rangers. Martin has never faced the Rays, but Price has not fared well against Texas in his career. He’s 1-4 with a 5.98 ERA in eight starts versus Texas and it is worse in Arlington where his ERA sits at 10.46 in four start. Price, of course, will not be deterred by past performances and had this to offer via MLB.com.

"This is hands down my biggest game of this year," Price said. "It's night and day bigger than Opening Day. It's big. This is the moment that I want to be in. I want to be able to relish this moment and just go out there and have fun."

The Rays are surely happy to have their ace on the mound ready to get them into the postseason for the fourth time since 2008. The Rangers are confident they can continue their roll and reach the playoffs for the fourth straight season. The Rangers have Rays have a recent history in the postseason. Texas eliminated the Tampa Bay from postseason contention in the ALDS in both 2010 and 2011 before they went on to win the AL pennant.

If pressed for a prediction, I'd got with the Rays despite the recent Ranger roll and their success against Price. In a one game winner moves on scenario, I'll go with Rays manager Joe Maddon over Rangers skipper Ron Washington in a heartbeat. In a close game, Maddon has a decisive edge in my view.

So, it’s a big night with lots at stake. It may not be an official playoff game, but it will surely feel like one when the teams step on the field. Enjoy the game!

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