2011 ALDS Game 3 Recap: Rays Cannot Recover 7th Inning Runs, Lose 4-3

The Tampa Bay Rays (1-2) could not hold their late lead, falling to the Texas Rangers (2-1) after a disastrous 7th inning. David Price started for the Rays, and though he did not collect his usual array of strikeouts, pitched rather well through 6 and 2/3 innings. He hit the biggest trouble in the seventh inning, when Adrian Beltre lined a single to left and then scored when catcher Mike Napoli powered a pitcher's pitch into the left field bleachers.

The Rays struck first when rookie outfielder Desmond Jennings slaughtered the first pitch of the 4th inning for his first homer of the post season, giving the Rays a 1-0 lead. The Rays held the lead for two innings as Price meandered in and out of trouble and Texas pitcher Colby Lewis dominated the Rays hitters, collecting 6 strikeouts and allowing only 1 hit, the Jennings homer.

Taking the lead in the top of the seventh after a wild inning, the Rangers bullpen then began leaking runs, allowing a Sean Rodriguez RBI ground out in the bottom of the seventh after Mike Gonzalez walked three batters, narrowing the Rangers lead to 4-2.

The Rays scored again in the bottom of the eighth as Desmond Jennings led off the eighth inning with a six-pitch at bat, ending in his second homer of the day, a tall fly ball to the left field bleachers. With the Rays down 4-3, B.J. Upton worked a walked off reliever Mike Adams, and then Evan Longoria, teetering on a Golden Sombrero with three strikeouts already, fell into an 0-2 early. He worked the count back to 3-2, but a Rangers pitch out caught Upton as he attempted to steal second base.

With the bases empty, Longo finally earned a one-out walk, bringing up Matt Joyce, who worked yet another 3-2 count and a walk. This brought Rangers manager Ron Washington from the dugout to bring in lefty Mike Gonzolez from the 'pen.

Gonzelez made short work of Johnny Damon, striking him out on three pitches. Washington then brought in relief ace and closer Neftali Feliz, who threw a wild pitch, but struck out Ben Zobrist after 7 pitches, ending the scoring threat.

In the bottom of the ninth, Sean Rodriguez singled an 0-2 slider into right-center with 1 out. Catcher Kelly Shoppach, who entered the game as a defensive replacement after Rodriguez pinch hit for start John Jaso, worked strong eighth-pitch at bat, but grounded a double play ball to third baseman Beltre for the final two outs of the game.

Notes:

  • Casey Kotchman had an impressive first inning, playing a major role in each out. Defensively, David Price also had a nice day, making a nifty play to help himself out of a sixth inning jam.
  • The Rangers hit an absurd 16 ground balls tonight, miraculously collecting a .276 batting average on balls in play (BABIP).
  • John Jaso had no chance against the Rangers running game, allowing a combined four steals. He got little help from Price -- whose pick off move barely requires the runner to walk back to first -- and Brandon Gomes -- who appeared to have no interest in slowing the runners whatsoever. Jaso did, however, bait Elvis Andrus into a crucial 3rd out in the 7th inning.

The Rays will be in action again tomorrow with game time scheduled for a 2:07 p.m. ET first pitch.

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