In Game 163, the Tampa Bay Rays defeated the Texas Rangers 5-2 to earn the second AL Wild Card spot. Reigning AL Cy Young Award winner David Price pitched a complete game to mark the Rays fourth post-season entry in the past six years. On Wednesday, the Rays will face the Cleveland Indians to determine the AL Wild Card champion.
Going into the game, Price was 1-8 in his career against the Rangers. In his nine innings, Price gave up two runs on seven hits while striking out four and walking only one.
Evan Longoria went 3 for 4 with a two run home run and a walk.
The Rangers did not help themselves by getting picked off twice (Elvis Andrus in the first, Ian Kinsler in the third) while a throwing error by relief pitcher Tanner Scheppers allowed Sam Fuld to score after he stole third. I also scratched my head when Rangers manager Ron Washington took out starter Martin Perez after only five and a third innings. Reliever Alexei Ogando promptly gave up a run on a Delmon Young double.
Texas did catch a break in the seventh when a ball hit by Young was ruled a catch by Rangers centerfielder Leonys Martin, but the TBS announcers immediately saw that Martin had trapped the ball. It should have scored a run for the Rays. But the Rangers couldn't take advantage of the situation.
Rangers manager Ron Washington is under contract through 2014. But I wonder if the team will make a change sooner. After winning back to back AL pennants in 2010 and 2011, the Rangers have slipped. In 2012, they led the AL West most of the season until the Oakland A's took the division from them. The Rangers did earn an AL Wild Card spot, but fell to the Baltimore Orioles in the Wild Card game.
This year, the Rangers fell victim to the A's as they began September losing 15 of 20 games. However, the Rangers won their final seven games to reach game 163. But they would fall short.
Firing Ron Washington would be shortsighted. He is far and away the most successful manager in the history of the Senators/Rangers franchise. The Rangers narrowly missed their fourth consecutive post-season appearance and, at minimum, Washington has earned a chance to finish out his contract. But baseball, like life, isn't always fair.