Only one game took place yesterday, but as a game 5, it was sure to decide one team’s season. After the Rangers took both games in Tampa and the Rays won two in Arlington to get the game back to the Trop, the Rays would look to cash in on their home field advantage while the Rangers looked to continue the trend in this series, in which the away team had won every game up to yesterday’s contest.
The Rangers struck first, giving the Rays a bit of their own medicine. Elvis Andrus led off the first inning with a single, and stole second after Michael Young struck out. Josh Hamilton grounded out to first but Andrus rounded third aggressively and surprised the Rays by heading home, catching Carlos Peña and David Price off guard and scoring the first run of the game.
The Rays would tie it up in the third. With one out, Sean Rodriguez lined a single into right, and Jason Bartlett followed with a swinging bunt down the third base line for a hit. Ben Zobrist hit the Rays’ third consecutive single to put the Rays on the board. Bartlett and Zobrist advanced to second and third as Josh Hamilton’s throw went wide left. However, the Rays could not capitalize, with Bartlett running into an out on a grounder straight at Cliff Lee.
The Rangers would get their lead right back, as in the top of the fourth, Nelson Cruz hit a two-out double. Cruz then took off for third and came home when Kelly Shoppach’s throw went past Longoria and into left.
The Rangers would build their lead, scoring a run in the 6th on an Ian Kinsler grounder that could have been a double play. Kinsler hustled and beat the throw to first and Vlad came around from second to score. The Rangers then put this one out of reach at 5-1 when Kinsler hit a two-run homer off Rafael Soriano in the 9th.
This series ended with the away team winning every game and the Rangers moving on to face the Bronx Bombers in the ALCS.
Let’s see where it all went wrong for the Rays.
Rays vs. Rangers
WPA Leader: Cliff Lee (0.477)
Lee pitched a complete game with one earned run and 11 strikeouts, so it’s no surprise that he was the biggest contributor to the Rangers’ win. Also playing big roles were Nelson Cruz (.154) and Ian Kinsler (.144), both of whom went 3 for 4. Cruz scored two runs, had a double and stole a bag. Kinsler had 3 RBIs including his 2-run homer.
Ben Zobrist’s single to bring home Sean Rodriguez for the Rays’ only run of the game had a .162 WPA, mostly based on the high-leverage situation in which it occurred (2.32 LI). The Rangers’ biggest play was Cruz’s steal of third, on which he crossed the plate on Shoppach’s error (0.099 WPA).
Carl Crawford’s -.186 WPA came on an 0 for 4 day that will in all likelihood mark his last appearance in a Rays uniform. Kelly Shoppach had a -.124, with an 0 for 3 at the plate. He also made the throwing error on Cruz’s steal, so he’s in the running as well.