After splitting the games in Dallas, the Tampa Bay Rays and Texas Rangers head back to Tropicana Field for two games that should help decide the outcome of this series. Game 3 is tonight and first pitch is scheduled for 5:07. The game can be seen on TBS.
The pitching matchup should be a good one. The Rangers will send Colby Lewis to the mound. Lewis finished the year with a 14-10 record and an ERA of 4.40 and 169 strikeouts. The Rays will send David Price to the mound, and you have to assume that he is still pretty upset about how his last start went against the Yankees in the regular season finale. This has been an offensive series thus far, but it would behoove the Rays if they could get a strong performance out of arguably their best pitcher, particularly after losing the game that James Shields pitched on Saturday.
A rocky fourth inning led to 5 runs against Complete Game James Shields, who had his second worst outing of the season, while the Rangers held off a Rays charge at the end to pull out an 8-6 victory, evening the best-of-five series at a game a piece.
For Texas, Ian Kinsler, Mike Napoli and Mitch Moreland each batted in two runs as winning starter Derrick Holland worked 5 innings, leaving with 3 earned runs.
The Rays battled back on the strength of Evan Longoria’s three run blast in the seventh to pull within 7-6 but Moreland’s home run gave the Rangers the distance they needed.
Neftali Feliz worked an uneventful 9th, walking one batter but getting Longoria and Ben Zobrist to fly out to retire the game.
Shields worked 5 innings, surrendering 8 hits and 7 earned runs.
The focus shifts to Tropicana Field for Game Three Monday Afternoon.
In the early inning of tonight’s Game Two of the ALDS, Rangers pitcher Derek Holland was struggling. Things started off tough in the first inning, as the Rays loaded the bases early with a double from B.J. Upton, a walk from Evan Longoria, and a single from Johnny Damon. Kelly Shoppach — the hero from last night’s game — fell behind 1-2, but fouled off a few pitches and worked Holland deep in into the count; he eventually walked and drove in the Rays’ first run of the night.
Holland would escape without any further damage in the first, but he’s been off and on since then. The Rays worked him hard in the second inning, and although they didn’t score any more runs off him, they pushed his pitch count over 50. He appeared to settle down in the third inning, putting the Rays down in order, but the fourth inning ended up causing him trouble.
After retiring the first two hitters, Casey Kotchman hit a weak groundball back to Holland. Instead of getting an easy third out, though, Holland threw the ball way too low to first, and the pitch got past the first baseman. Kotchman reached, and Matt Joyce followed up with a two-run home run to deep right field.
And yet, the Rangers came rallying back against James Shields in the bottom of the fourth inning. They loaded the bases with no outs — thanks to a hit by pitch, single, and single — and then scored a run on Shields’ second hit by pitch of the inning. Mike Napoli drove in two runs with a single, and then the Rangers tacked on two more runs on a wild pitch and a groundout.
This series just got interesting. Now the Rays need to see if they can score again before the Rangers’ dominant bullpen gets into the game.