One foul tip. That’s it. Momentum gone from having the bases loaded with one out and up one run to the count going 2-2 and leading to Cliff Lee striking out Carlos Pena and Rocco Baldelli to end the first inning. Lee goes on cruise control for seven innings (7.0 IP, 5 hits, 1 ER and 10K’s) and leaves with a four run lead and poof that’s the turning point of the game. Quite amazing to think about it. The one the positive side for the Rays on that play was that home plate umpire Tim Welke didn’t toss Pena or Maddon. Had that argument been in the regular season they both probably would have been tossed. Tampa tried to claw their way back in but the Rays just couldn’t muster up any offense all day, aside from Ben Zobrist taking Cliff Lee deep, but Zobrist had been the only Ray to hit Lee well all afternoon.
The Rangers used their bats and their composure to beat Tampa in game one. This was shown from the onset of the game when David Price had a 24 pitch first inning, rare for him, where the Texas batters worked counts and fouled off a number of pitches, something they did all day. Price didn’t seem comfortable from the onset, he continually used fastball over fastball, 22 straight at one point in the first, he just didn’t seem like his confident self. Nelson Cruz and Bengie Molina added solo shots off Price, while Elvis Andrus even got a very ballsy two out bunt single past Price. Give credit to the Rangers hitters, they hit like they had been there before, which was unexpected seeing as the Rangers had mustered two runs or less in their previous six post season games. I know a very useless stat seeing as they hadn’t been in the post season in eleven years but baseball people, like myself and hopefully you readers, love!
Another big shutdown for the Rangers came in the eighth inning, which has been the best inning for the Rays all season. Manager Ron Washington went to the bullpen and let Darren O’Day and Darren Oliver come in to shut down the Rays big bats in Crawford, Upton and Longoria. Nefti Feliz looked to have some post season jitters in walking the first two batters he faced in the ninth but settled down after getting the hot hitting Zobrist to fly out for the first out.
Overall the Rangers have to be ecstatic knowing they will at least leave Tropicana Field with a split going back to Arlington. You have to wonder if the Rays will be feeling more pressure on Thursday with almost a “Must win” game so early into their series, especially as favorites. Texas will send C.J. Wilson to the mound to try and go home up two games. The pressure for the Rangers to win one game this series is now gone and who knows what this can do for their confidence the rest of the way in this series.
GAME 2 – Thursday @ 2:30pm @ Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg
Probables: TEX C.J. Wilson vs TAM James Shields
About the Author
Written by George Kouvalis
A huge fan of sports who loves to travel for major events. I've seen my fair share of major games and events including three Olympics, Wimbledon, The Masters etc.... Always up for a road trip or a drink to talk over sports or pro wrestling, in any city I am in or online. Favorite Teams: Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto FC, Toronto Blue Jays, Chicago Bulls, San Francisco 49ers, Toronto Argonauts, Manchester United, and of course the teams I blog for, the Texas Rangers and Buffalo Sabres. Follow me on twitter at the handle georgekouvalis