Lee Leads Rangers Past Rays, 5-1
Lee was 0-3 in the regular season against the Rays.
Price, a 19-game winner, has never beaten the Rangers, going 0-2 with a 7.45 ERA -- his highest against an AL opponent. The lefty allowed five runs and eight hits over 6 2-3 innings. He struck out eight.
Nelson Cruz and Bengie Molina homered for Texas. Ben Zobrist had two hits and drove in the Rays' run, in the seventh off Lee.
Darren O'Day and Darren Oliver pitched the eighth for Texas and rookie Neftali Feliz walked the first two men he faced in the ninth before getting out of the jam. Zobrist lined out to right and Feliz fanned Reid Brignac and pinch-hitter Matt Joyce.
Jason Bartlett, Carl Crawford and Evan Longoria singled to load the bases with one out in the first, but Lee threw a called strike three past Carlos Pena on a 3-2 count, then struck out Rocco Baldelli on three pitches.
"When I got out of the first inning, I knew things were going to go well," Lee said.
Longoria returned to the lineup after missing the final 10 regular-season games with a strained left quad. The Rays lost six of them, all to last-place teams.
WEST CHAMPION (90-72)
The Rangers went to Tampa Bay early because manager Ron Washington wanted to get two workouts in on the artificial turf of Tropicana Field and under the domed stadium's quirky lights.
"It's just ... different," said Rangers outfielder Jeff Francouer. "It's definitely one of the weirdest places I've ever played baseball."
Added outfield instructor Gary Pettis: "All we want to do is get them as comfortable as we can. We just don't want them to be in a hurry to do something when they can take their time. I don't anticipate it being a big problem."
It was a problem in August. The Rangers were swept in that series, and the dome played a major role.
Texas took a 4-2 lead to the bottom of the eighth in the first game, but misplays by second baseman Joaquin Arias (twice) and right fielder Brandon Boggs (once) helped fuel a rally. The inning turned big when Evan Longoria hit one of those weird bouncers up the middle. It bounced low off the turf, then high off the dirt and sailed above shortstop Elvis Andrus' head for a game-tying single. Tampa Bay added two more runs after that and won 6-4.
The good news for the Rangers is that neither Arias nor Boggs is on the playoff roster. The bad news: Second baseman Ian Kinsler and outfielder Nelson Cruz, the regular starters, have no experience in Tropicana Field this season.
NOTES: OF David Murphy said he ran on his strained left groin muscle at about 50-60 percent Monday and had no issues. … RHP Neftali Feliz, who did not allow a run in 12 2/3 innings after Sept. 1, was named AL Rookie of the Month. It was the first such honor for Feliz, who is trying to break the Rangers' stretch of 36 years since they had a Rookie of the Year winner. Guess who that was, Indians fans. Mike Hargrove, who hit .323 with 66 RBI in 131 games to win in 1974. Finishing third in the voting was future Hall of Famer George Brett of Kansas City. … The Rangers entered the postseason with a nine-game playoff losing streak that dates to Game 2 of the 1996 Division Series against the New York Yankees.
BY THE NUMBERS: 3.93 -- The staff ERA, the team's lowest since a 3.83 figure in 1990.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We missed the prediction of 92, but 90 sounds better than 89." -- Manager Ron Washington, as Texas (90-71) fell short of team president Nolan Ryan's prediction before the season.
EX-INDIAN FACTOR: Manager Ron Washington, LHP Cliff Lee.
MEDICAL WATCH: 1B Chris Davis (flu-like symptoms) was unavailable Oct. 1-3. … OF David Murphy (mild groin strain) left the Sept. 29 game and missed the rest of the regular season. … RHP Frank Francisco (strained right rib cage muscle) went on the 15-day disabled list Aug. 28. He played catch Sept. 21 for the first time in four weeks. He still hadn't thrown off a mound through Sept. 29, and he was ruled out for the first round of the playoffs. … RHP Guillermo Moscoso (blister on right thumb) was called up from the minors and placed on the 60-day disabled list Sept. 29. … RHP Omar Beltre (sprained right ankle) was called up from the minors and placed on the 60-day disabled list Sept. 3. … OF Craig Gentry (broken right wrist) was called up from the minors and placed on the 15-day disabled list Aug. 30. … RHP Brandon McCarthy (right shoulder soreness) was called up from the minors and placed on the 60-day disabled list July 29. He began a rehab assignment with Class AAA Oklahoma City on Aug. 20. … RHP Eric Hurley (right shoulder surgery in January 2009, left wrist surgeries in March 2010 and April 2010) went on the 60-day disabled list March 13. He had a third surgery on his right wrist in June 2010. He missed the entire season.
ROTATION: LHP Cliff Lee, RHP Colby Lewis, LHP C.J. Wilson, RHP Tommy Hunter, LHP Derek Holland, RHP Scott Feldman.
BULLPEN: RHP Neftali Feliz (closer); LHPs Darren Oliver, Matt Harrison, Michael Kirkman, Clay Rapada; RHPs Darren O'Day, Alexi Ogando, Rich Harden, Pedro Strop, Dustin Nippert, Mark Lowe.
CATCHERS: Bengie Molina, Matt Treanor, Taylor Teagarden.
INFIELDERS: 1Bs Jorge Cantu, Chris Davis, 2B Ian Kinsler, SS Elvis Andrus, 3B Michael Young, UT Mitch Moreland, Andres Blanco, Cristian Guzman, Esteban German.
OUTFIELDERS: LF Josh Hamilton, CF Julio Borbon, RF Nelson Cruz, DH Vladimir Guerrero, OFs David Murphy, Jeff Francoeur.
TAMPA BAY RAYS
EAST CHAMPION (96-66)
The Rays felt it was important to win the American League East. They wanted the home field advantage that came with it, but for them it was also a source of pride, as they overcome the financial and other advantages the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox enjoy.
"To win this division two out of three years, you're doing something," said veteran left fielder Carl Crawford, enjoying a likely farewell tour after so many years of frustration. "I know the goal is to win the World Series, but to win the American League East is saying a lot, just saying what kind of team you have."
The Rays were particularly proud of how they did it, rallying from a 2-0 deficit in the ninth and then winning the season's final game in 12 innings over Kansas City. They consider it a harbinger of how they will play in the playoffs.
"How we came back, the character that our guys displayed, I think is something we've done all season long and I think will carry over into October," executive VP Andrew Friedman said. "And hopefully put us in position to have a lot of success in October."
NOTES: LHP David Price wasn't disappointed that the Rays' plan to get him his 20th win in Saturday's playoff-tuneup relief outing didn't work as Kauffman Stadium official scorer Del Black awarded the win instead to RHP Chad Qualls. "Getting a win that way for No. 20 doesn't really mean a whole lot to me anyway," Price said. … 3B Evan Longoria (strained left quad) agreed with manager Joe Maddon that it was best to not return to the lineup until the start of the playoffs. … LF Carl Crawford and CF B.J. Upton made the Rays the first team in MLB history to have two players with 60 extra-base hits and 40 steals in the same season. … The Rays tied a major league record by using eight pitchers in their Saturday night shutout of the Royals.
BY THE NUMBERS: 0 -- Teams besides the Yankees and Rays to win more than one AL East title in the last 15 years.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "You don't back into 96 wins in our division." -- Rays manager Joe Maddon, on the subject of the Rays losing five of their last eight.
EX-INDIAN FACTOR: Coaches George Hendrick and Derek Shelton, catcher Kelly Shoppach.
MEDICAL WATCH: 3B Evan Longoria (strained left quad) was injured Sept. 23, and didn't played since … OF Gabe Kapler (sprained right ankle) has been on the 15-day disabled list since Aug. 15. … C Jose Lobaton (sore right foot) was called up from the minors and placed on the 15-day disabled list Aug. 31. … LHP J.P. Howell (left shoulder weakness) went on the 15-day disabled list March 26, was transferred to the 60-day DL on Aug. 27. He had a setback in his rehab May 17 and had season-ending surgery May 19.
ROTATION: LHP David Price, RHPs James Shields, Matt Garza, Wade Davis, Jeff Niemann.
BULLPEN: RHP Rafael Soriano (closer); RHPs Dan Wheeler, Joaquin Benoit, Grant Balfour, Jeremy Hellickson, Andy Sonnanstine, Chad Qualls, Lance Cormier, Mike Ekstrom; LHPs Randy Choate, Jake McGee.
CATCHERS: John Jaso, Kelly Shoppach, Dioner Navarro.
INFIELDERS: 1B Carlos Pena, 2B Sean Rodriguez, SS Jason Bartlett, 3B Evan Longoria; UT Reid Brignac, Dan Johnson, Willy Aybar.
OUTFIELDERS: LF Carl Crawford, CF B.J. Upton, RF Ben Zobrist, DH Rocco Baldelli; OFs Matt Joyce, Brad Hawpe, Desmond Jennings.
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