Rays Narrowly Keep away from Infamy however Can’t Keep away from the Sweep as Rangers Advance


Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports activities

The Texas Rangers locked up their first postseason collection since 2016 with an exclamation level, as soon as once more dominating the Tampa Bay Rays, this time by a rating of 7-1. Nathan Eovaldi shook off his late-season struggles to ship a masterclass, whereas Corey Seager and Josh Jung chipped in a pair of doubles every (with the latter additionally including a triple), and Adolis García and Evan Carter went deep. For the Rays, this marked their third season in a row of playoff disappointment, and whereas they received’t sit atop the listing of postseason scoreless streaks after Curtis Mead’s RBI single within the seventh, they’ll head into the offseason with extra query marks than they’ve had in latest reminiscence.

After the lefty Jordan Montgomery shut them down in Sport One, the Rays made a few notable adjustments prematurely of dealing with the right-handed Eovaldi. First, they shed the Satan Rays uniforms that will have doomed them to the destiny of their World Sequence-less ancestors. Second, and extra straight in response to yesterday’s occasions, they swapped the lately returned Jose Siri — who made important errors on each side of the ball yesterday — for the left-handed hitting Josh Lowe, shifting Manuel Margot from proper subject to middle to be able to accommodate him.

Margot, who missed an excellent chunk of the second half himself, was circled on a Seager liner in simply the second at-bat of the sport. However after the Rangers stranded 14 runners yesterday — a franchise document for a postseason win — they couldn’t get Seager dwelling. Texas’ second hitter reached within the subsequent body as effectively, however Yandy Díaz — who additionally struggled defensively yesterday, committing one of many franchise’s playoff-record four-errors — ensured that they didn’t have to fret about stranding Jonah Heim with a diving seize that doubled him off:

As for the Rays’ offense, Eovaldi regarded sharp in opposition to them from the get-go. The 33-year-old, two-time Tommy John recipient missed a number of weeks with a forearm damage earlier than returning to submit a 9.30 ERA and seven.88 FIP in 20.1 September innings. However his velocity was strong by way of the primary two frames of this one, and he notched 5 whiffs, with three approaching his high-spin splitter; opposite to what the printed could have had you assume, splitters are supposed to kill spin, and although Eovaldi’s is extra of a spinner than the typical break up, it was profitable partially as a result of it was down 55 rpm early.

The Rangers put geese on the pond once more within the high of the third, with a Jung double main the cost. However a fast activate a giant double play by the out-of-position Mead and a vital strikeout of Robbie Grossman — who, in a little bit of a head-scratcher, drew one other begin over Mitch Garver at DH and within the three-hole — quelled the risk. This left the Rangers with no runners on for García when he led off the fourth, limiting his homer to a solo shot:

However the sport would shortly fall out of attain. After Zach Eflin set down the elder Lowe (Nathaniel) and Heim, Leody Taveras ripped a 102.1 mph liner up the center for a single. Subsequent, Jung floated a pop fly into brief proper, and the youthful Lowe risked a dive with two outs. He got here up brief, and Jung ended up at third with a triple. Rattled, Eflin grooved a first-pitch cutter to Carter, who reached base for the sixth straight time to begin his postseason profession, homering this time. The shot was a two-run blast, and the Rangers had gone up 4 in a heartbeat:

Texas added one other run within the subsequent body. After yesterday’s comedy of errors, the Rays dedicated their solely miscue of the afternoon when Mead couldn’t give you a Seager grounder to begin issues off within the fifth. The Texas shortstop finally got here round to attain because of a Grossman seeing-eye single (that prompted boos from the Tampa Bay crowd) and a (Nathaniel) Lowe RBI groundout. That inning proved to be Eflin’s final; on the day, the right-hander gave up 9 hard-hit (95 mph+) balls, with two leaving the yard, after residing within the coronary heart of the zone far an excessive amount of:

However the Rays’ transfer to the bullpen supplied little reduction, as a trio of doubles within the sixth scored two extra and put the Rangers up 7-0, whereas Tampa Bay’s offense hurtled in the direction of a record-setting postseason scoreless streak. Eovaldi largely maintained his velocity into the late innings, and the Rays didn’t even get a runner previous first till the seventh. That’s once they managed back-to-back singles on a pair of sub-.200 xBA grounders. Margot adopted up the singles with a flyout, mentioning Mead. It was then, with Eovaldi laboring previous 90 pitches for the primary time since his forearm damage, that Mead ended the Rays’ scoreless streak at 33.2 innings — simply in need of tying the document — with a 106.5 mph liner.

That introduced Eovaldi’s night time to an in depth, however he was dominant total, and his stuff proved that it wasn’t simply because of the Rays’ haplessness. He continued pumping 95 into his final inning, notching whiffs on all of his pitches with skilled separation:

If he recovers effectively, he’ll pair with Montgomery for a formidable one-two punch in opposition to the delight of the American League in Baltimore, although Dane Dunning often is the starter for Sport One of many ALDS if the Rangers choose to have their high starters on extra common relaxation. They’ll face off in opposition to the Orioles starting Saturday.

Whereas they didn’t set the scoreless streak document, the Rays didn’t win a sport within the Wild Card spherical for the second yr in a row, this regardless of 13 extra regular-season wins. To their credit score, they stored preventing with a pair of hits within the ninth, however they nonetheless moved to 1-7 of their previous eight postseason contests. But, their playoff struggles are the least of their worries heading into subsequent yr. Their lengthy listing of Tommy John recipients and reliance on rookie place gamers down the stretch depart them with loads to type out this winter.

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