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Longo hits one out — Courtesy: Sun Sports
Jennings is first pitch swinging to lead off the game and leads off with a single. Pena then reaches on an error by Rangers' 2B Ian Kinsler. Longo follows by teeing off to dead center for a home run to put the Rays up early, all before an out is made. Zobrist then walks and Keppinger singles. Harrison who has been dominate early this season isn't fooling anyone tonight. Upton follow with a line drive single to left, scoring Zobrist. Sean Rodriguez then bunts, Harrison picked up the ball and threw to third to force Keppinger for the first out. Geminez flies out to left and Upton tagged up and gambled and tried to take third but was easily thrown out for the double play and that ends the inning.
James Shields starts the bottom half by giving up a double off the wall in right by Kinsler. Andrus follows with a single to right, moving Kinsler to Third. Shields then picks off Andrus for the first out, Hamilton then grounds out. However, Kinsler scores. Shields then gives up a single to Adrian Beltre. Michael Young then singles up the third base baseline, there was no real play other than hope it would go foul which it didn't. All this ends up for naught for the Rangers as "Big Game" strikes out Nelson to end the inning.
Elliot leads off the second and hits a ground ball to the first baseman and he beats out the throw for an infield single. That would be the Rays only hit in the second as the next three hitters would go down in order, 2 on fly outs and 1 on a strike out. In the bottom half, Murphy reaches on catchers interference to lead off. Napoli follows and Shields strike him out on a foul tip. Moreland follows Napoli and Shields retires him with a strike out. Kinsler hits a ball to right in front of home plate and is throw out to end the side.
Zobrist starts out the third by flying out to second. Keppinger is next to bat and he lines in to center for a single. Upton hits a ball up the middle, Andrus tries to glove flip it for an out but can't and everyone's safe. S-Rod is next to hit but lines out right to the left fielder, David Murphy. Geminez follows and doubles to right, Keppinger scores Upton attempts to score but it called out at the plate by Bob Davidson. Upton and Maddon argue that he was safe but to no avail. Out of the angles I saw on the replay, it looked like Davidson was right, Napoli blocked the plate. The Rays settle for a run. On to the bottom half, Elvis Andrus leads off. He manages to get a line drive single by Pena who was jumping for it. Shields then get Hamilton looking but Geminez can't get the throw out to complete the "Strike 'em out, throw 'em out" and Andrus moves up to second on the steal. Adrian Beltre is next to bat and he strike out looking. Michael Young then flies out on the first pitch to center to end the third.
Elliot Johnson leads off the fourth and he doubles up the left field line. Back to the top of the order, Jennings follows and he bounces out to shortstop moving Elliot over to third with 1 out. Rangers bring the infield in for Carlos Pena who breaks his bat swinging at a ball in and he is easily thrown out at first after a lot of confusion. Longoria follows and he lines an RBI single to left and scores Johnson. Zobrist is first pitch swinging and he doubles over Josh Hamilton's head in center and Longoria comes all the way around from first to score. Keppinger is the batter and he bloops one in to shallow right for a single, Zobrist moves to third. Upton ends the half inning by striking out swinging stranding runners on the corners. Nelson Cruz leads off the bottom half of the fourth for the Rangers and he grounds out to Elliot Johnson at second for the first out. Murphy is next and he bounces out to second. Mike Napoli is next and he lines a single to center. Mitch Moreland is next and he grounds out to second as well to end the inning.
Sean Rodriguez is first to bat in the fifth. He has a three pitch at-bat and flies out to Cruz in right. Geminez follows with a single he sneaks past the shortstop Andrus. After Elliot Johnson fouls out after an 8 pitch AB, Jennings takes to the hitters box and he delivers with a two out single, giving the Rays a season-high 14 hits. Pena then bats and strikes out looking on Harrison's 100th pitch of the night to end the half inning. The top of the Rangers order, Ian Kinsler, leads off the bottom half of the fifth, he grounds out to third. Andrus follows with his third single of the night. And still no 1-2-3 inning for either starting pitcher tonight. Josh Hamilton is next and finally burns Rays pitching this season by hitting it out to right-center and making it 7-3 Rays. Beltre follows and he quickly strikes out looking. Young is next and he grounds out to S-Rod at shortstop to end the inning.
Longoria leads off the top of the sixth. Mark Lowe relieves Harrison. Longo works the AB and draws a walk. Zobrist follows, and he grounds out to Moreland and is out, Longo is caught in a rundown as a result and it eventually tagged out to complete the double play. Luke Scott pinch hits for Keppinger, he drives it out to give the Rays their eighth run of the night on a solo shot to right. Upton follows with an infield single towards shortstop. Sean Rodriguez is next and taps one towards shortstop and is thrown out at first to end the half inning. Nelson Cruz leads off the bottom half of the inning and he strikes out swinging. Murphy is next and he hits a solo shot to right to make Luke Scott's HR moot. Napoli is next and Shields gets him swinging for the second out. Mitch Moreland is next and works a full count before doubling past Pena up the right field line. Kinsler follows and he singles to right to put runners on the corners with two outs. Andrus follows and he taps out to Shields on the mound to end the threat and the inning.
Uehara relieves Lowe and Chris Geminez leads off the 7th inning and he grounds out to third. Elliot Johnson follows and he grounds out to 2nd. Jennings is next and he grounds out to shortstop, this becomes the first time a team is retired 1-2-3 tonight and it's not in favor of the Rays. Josh Hamilton leads off the bottom half of the inning and Shields' night is done after six, he is relieved by JP Howell and he gets Hamilton looking. The next batter, Beltre is hit by Howell's pitch. Young is next and he grounds in to a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.
Robbie Ross relieves Uehara for the 8th inning, and Carlos Pena leads off for the Rays. Pena flies out to center which makes Pena 0 for 5 tonight. Longo follows, he flies out to center as well. Zobrist is next, he grounds out to shortstop and for the second straight inning, the Rays batters are retired 1-2-3. Cruz leads off the bottom of the eighth. He bloops a single in to shallow right. Murphy is next and he singles to left and the first two men of the inning is on. That would be it for Howell, he would be relieved by Wade Davis. Napoli would be next to hit and he would strike out looking for the first out, a big out for the Rays. Mitch Moreland is next and he pops in to shallow left and Longo grabs it but drops it and everyone is safe and the bases are loaded. Davis throws a pitch to Kinsler in the dirt and it scoots away, Cruz tries to score but he is out on the plate for a HUGE second out. However, Kinsler walks to reload the bases for Andrus. Davis works the count full after falling behing 3-0 to Andrus. It takes a while (11 pitches) but Andrus FINALLY flies out to BJ in center to end the huge threat and the inning. Exhale.
Luke Scott leads off the ninth, still facing Ross. Scott ends up striking out looking. That would be it for Robbie Ross, he's relieved by Alexi Ogando. The first batter Ogando will face is BJ Upton. Upton flies out to Hamilton in center. S-Rod is next to hit and he hits one deep but not out as he flies out to left. That makes the third inning in a row the Rays hitters go 1-2-3. We go to the bottom of the ninth with the Rays clinging to a four run lead and the big bats due to hit for Texas. Jake McGee will take the mound for the Rays in bottom of the ninth, he will first face Josh Hamilton. McGee gets Hamilton swinging for the first out. Beltre is next and he flies out to center on the first pitch. Young is the last hope for the Rangers but he strikes out to end the game and lower my stress levels.
Now, let's break it down...
Outfield: The outfield played a crucial role in this win. Just good defense all around the outfield tonight. (5 stars)
Infield: The infield had a few problems tonight, including Longo's error, but over all they were crucial in the win as well. (3.8 stars)
Starting pitching: James Shields wasn't pretty tonight, he gave up 11 hits and 4 runs over 6 innings. Again, it wasn't pretty, but it was enough to get the winning decision tonight. I think we'll all take it but we'd prefer if he'd get a little better for his next start. (2.5 stars)
Bullpen: Solid although stressful outting by the bullpen tonight. Other than the ninth inning this was probably the most October-like atmosphere I've felt all season and it was largely due to the bullpen allowing base runners, especially in the eighth, but they held it down enough not to blow the lead. (3 stars)
Catching: Chris Geminez had a hard start to the game being called for catchers interference for the second time in as many starts, but other than that little screw up he was great tonight and crucial in throwing Cruz out at the plate trying to score on a wild pitch. (4 stars)
Offense: The offense showed up in a big way tonight, lead by Evan's home run to dead center in the first. The offense went cold in the 7th, 8th and 9th. But I will take this 16 hit performance by our offense any day and I hope it continues tomorrow. (4.7 stars)
Umpiring: As much as it pains me to admit it, Bob Davidson and his crew didn't screw up tonight and were solid. Hopefully this good umpiring continues throughout the series. This series is hard enough to handle without try to fight the umps too. (5 stars)
Player(s) of the game: Wade Davis, if not for that pitching there in the eighth, we might be talking about a loss. Instead we're talking about our sixth win in a row. Sure he loaded the bases in the first place and almost gave up a game tying grand slam to Andrus but he didn't lose his head, he didn't give up any runs. So I feel he's deserving.
Play of the game: Nelson Cruz thrown out at the plate trying to score from third on a wild pitch.
Final word: I don't remember another April game feeling so much like a playoff game. The boys played hard, had a few errors along the way, but pulled out the much needed victory in Arlington. If this offensive show continues we should be fine until we get home, but the starting pitching needs to step up. Giving up 13 hits is ridiculous. Great win though, enjoy it Rays fans! They earned it! Get some! By the way, FIRST IN THE AL EAST! (4 stars)