ARLINGTON, Texas – David Price, Evan Longoria and the Tampa Bay Rays are going to playoffs again, getting there with a victory in their final regular-season game for the second time in three years.
They needed an extra game this time.
Price threw his fourth complete game of the season, Longoria had a two-run homer and the Rays beat the Texas Rangers 5-2 in the AL wild-card tiebreaker game Monday night, the 163rd game for both teams.
Luckily for Manager Joe Maddon and the Rays, they weren’t done in by another blown call in Texas — though this one did cost them at least one run.
The Rays face another must-win situation Wednesday night at Cleveland in the AL wild-card game — the winner faces Boston in the division series. Tampa Bay, in the playoffs for the fourth time in six years, won four of six from the Indians during the regular season.
Price (10-8), the reigning AL Cy Young winner, had a 10.26 ERA in four previous starts at Rangers Ballpark. He was superb in this one, striking out four and walking one. He picked off two runners while allowing seven hits and throwing 81 of 118 pitches for strikes.
“When you can get outs without throwing pitches that’s always huge,” Price said. “If I don’t get those two outs on the pickoff moves, I have to get the next guys out. It forces me to throw at least 10 more pitches.”
The 28-year-old lefty reached 10 wins for the fifth straight season. He missed more than six weeks because of a triceps strain but is 9-4 in his 13 starts since returning July 2 from his first career stint on the disabled list.
Longoria had three hits, continuing his stellar play in the last game of regular seasons. He is hitting .579 (11 for 19) in those finales with seven homers and 10 RBI, according to STATS.
Texas had won seven in a row, needing every one of those wins just to force the majors’ first wild-card tiebreaker since 2007.
Even with the return of All-Star slugger Nelson Cruz from his 50-game drug suspension, the Rangers missed a chance to get to the playoffs for the fourth year in a row.
“I’m disappointed. We didn’t get it done,” Rangers Manager Ron Washington said. “I’ve got no excuse for that.”
Cruz, who had 27 homers and 76 RBI in 108 games before his suspension, was 0 for 4 with a strikeout while hitting sixth as the designated hitter. His groundout to shortstop ended the game.