There seems to be some sort of curse that hangs over the Texas Rangers every year about this time. As every season winds down, the Rangers get into trouble and end up fighting for a final playoff spot towards the final day. On Wednesday night, the Tampa Bay Rays added to the pressure as Desmond Jennings gave the Rays a 12th inning walk-off hit for a 4-3 victory.
The win put the Rays atop the AL Wild Card standings, in sole possession of the top spot by a mere game. Had the Rangers picked up the victory, they would've earned home field advantage for the AL Wild Card game, should those two teams still be in position for that game on October 1.
Texas got things started in the top of the second, when Leonys Martin tripled home the game's first two runs. They would hold that 2-0 lead until the bottom of the sixth, when Sean Rodriguez tied the game with a two-run blast to left field.
Both starters had what would be considered a solid outing. The home run would be the only two hits that Rangers starter Derek Holland would surrender, as he gave up six hits across six innings of work. Rays starter Chris Archer also went six frames, giving up a pair of runs but also struck out six batters. They were both long gone before a blown save and final score was eventually registered.
The 2-2 score would remain until the extra frames, when Adrian Beltre broke the silence in the top of the 11th. After two pitching changes in the inning, Beltre sent the eighth pitch of his at-bat from Alex Torres to left field. His RBI single broke the tie and would be the last run they would see.
Joe Nathan picks up the aforementioned blown save, giving up an RBI single to David DeJesus in the bottom of the 11th. He would go on to steal second base, but wasn't able to come around to score. Then Desmond Jennings then would slam the door with an RBI single to give the Rays a 4-3 win.
This loss does nothing but hurt Texas when it comes to the standings. Oakland also lost on Wednesday night, so the Rangers remain 6½ games back of the A's in the AL West. However now they're on the verge of getting knocked out of the Wild Card picture, as they are only a half-game up on Cleveland for the second spot.
These two teams will wrap up their season series on Thursday night at Tropicana Field, with first pitch set for 7:10 P.M. Eastern. This will be a battle of aces, as Rangers ace Yu Darvish (12-9, 2.79 ERA) will face off against Matt Moore (15-3, 3.11 ERA). A two-hour rain delay shortened Moore's last outing against Minnesota, and he'll be looking for his 16th win while the Rangers just try to stay alive in the playoff chase.
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