Rays ace David Price dominated the tie-breaking game Monday to send the Rays to Cleveland Wednesday. Price surprised many when he came out for the eighth and ninth innings to finish a dominant performance against a great hitting Rangers team in a great hitters’ park. Rangers’ ace Yu Darvish could not even take the field in the first inning, as he was needed Sunday to get the Rangers into the tiebreaker.
The Rays will travel to Cleveland on Wednesday, and the winner of that game will play in the Division Series at Boston on Friday.
Price gave up just eight base runners–on a walk and seven hits–to wrap up a 5-2 win five days after allowing only two runs in seven innings against the Yankees in another must-win game. Price was unflappable, even after a blown call on a trapped line drive in the top of the seventh inning prevented the Rangers from expanding on their 4-2 lead. Price simply came down and set down all three Rangers to stop the momentum.
Price vs. Darvish would have been a great showdown of aces. Darvish has had some of the most dominant outings of the season as he flirted with no-hitters and struck out 15 in a game, while Price won the Cy Young last year. This year, Darvish was ranked as the 29th best pitcher of over 200 in the www.valueaddbaseball.com database, while Price was ranked 48th but would have projected to rank 26th if he had not missed a half dozen starts due to injury.
The Rangers were lucky to have Darvish’s turn in the rotation come up Sunday when he was less than spectacular, but gave them enough to win to finish tied with the Rays and force the playoff. The Rays could have used Price Sunday when they almost let a 7-0 lead slip away to end their season, but held on for a 7-6 win.
However, that left Monday’s tie-breaking match-up as Price vs. Martin Perez, a good pitcher but one making just his 20th start and ranked as the 77th most valuable pitcher based on Value Add.
The final Value Add rankings will be released Tuesday, accounting for Monday’s stats that do count for the regular season. The Rays scored in the first inning and Evan Longoria added two-run homer in the third inning off of Perez, and the Rays never looked back with Price on the mound. The Rangers thought they could run on Price, but he made them pay with a first inning pickoff.