For a change, the Tampa Bay Rays found some clutch hits to go with their usual solid pitching.
While the Rays (76-62) have stormed into playoff contention behind a pitching staff that has compiled a 2.38 ERA in winning 22 of 34 games since Aug. 1, much has also been made of a scuffling offense that has been shut out nine times and been held to two or fewer runs on 40 occasions - winning just four - this season.
Both sides of Tampa Bay were on display in the opener of this three-game set Friday. Jeremy Hellickson and four relievers combined to allow five hits, but Ben Zobrist 's two-run walkoff homer allowed the Rays to overcome 16 strikeouts in a 3-1, 11-inning win and move within one game of Baltimore for the second wild-card berth."I've never had a walk-off home run before in my life, regardless of whether it was Little League or high school or college," said Zobrist, who is 10 for 27 with three doubles and one homer against Texas this year. "I thought about if it was ever going to happen, but when you're in the moment you just try to have a good, quality at-bat."
Evan Longoria also homered to account for the other run as Tampa Bay's other three hits were all singles. The third baseman has an RBI in five consecutive games and will try to extend that streak while helping Archer (0-2, 3.86 ERA), who will make his third major league start after being recalled from Triple-A Durham on Friday.
Archer is taking David Price 's spot after the Rays decided to skip the staff ace's turn in the rotation due to a sore left shoulder. Price, who did pick up his 17th win Sunday at Toronto, expects to be back for his next scheduled appearance."It's the first time I've ever had soreness in my shoulder like that so I'm just going to take it slow," he said Friday. "I played catch today, felt good so I'm just looking forward to (throwing again) Sunday or Monday and making my next start. It's a good time for me to miss a start and get that extra rest, then come back and be ready to throw."
Archer proved himself worthy of a recall from Durham after going 2-1 with a 1.75 ERA in 10 appearances, striking out 42 in 46 1-3 innings.
"Any time you get the opportunity to take the ball in the big leagues, it's super exciting," Archer told the team's official website ahead of his home debut. "You try not to get overwhelmed with everything. But it's always exciting."
Yu Darvish (14-9, 4.29) is trying to beat Tampa Bay for the second time in 11 days and win his third consecutive start. He extended his single-season franchise record for victories by a rookie Monday at Kansas City, retiring the first 17 batters he faced in an 8-4 victory and allowed three runs in seven innings."It was as good as I've seen his stuff," manager Ron Washington said. "His stuff was real crisp. His curveball they just couldn't do anything with it. Early in the game his cutter was just outstanding. His four-seamer, he was zipping it. He was hitting his spots with consistency."
Darvish stifled the Rays on Aug. 28, scattering six hits and two walks while striking out 10 in seven innings of a 1-0 win. It is one of only two appearances the right-hander did not give up a run in 25 starts, the other being against the New York Yankees on April 24.
|September 02, 2012||Ian Kinsler||Day-to-Day||Lower back stiffness|
|August 31, 2012||Tyler Tufts||15-Day DL||Surgery, perforated bowel|
|August 30, 2012||Robbie Ross||15-Day DL||Strained left forearm|
|August 28, 2012||Nelson Cruz||Day-to-Day||Left game - bruised left elbow|
|August 22, 2012||Yu Darvish||Day-to-Day||Right quad tightness|
|August 11, 2012||Mike Napoli||15-Day DL||Strained left quadriceps|
|Tampa Bay Rays|
|September 07, 2012||David Price||Day-to-Day||Left shoulder soreness|
|August 31, 2012||Sean Rodriguez||15-Day DL||Fractured right hand|
|August 28, 2012||Matt Joyce||Day-to-Day||Left game - strained left forearm|
|August 05, 2012||Ben Zobrist||Day-to-Day||Left game - upper back spasms|
|July 21, 2012||Luke Scott||15-Day DL||Right oblique strain|
|July 21, 2012||Alex Cobb||Day-to-Day||Left game - right knee contusion|
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- Rookie Jurickson Profar is making quite an impression on the Texas Rangers .
Profar hit a tiebreaking RBI double in the 10th inning, helping the Rangers beat the Tampa Bay Rays 4-2 on Saturday night.
"He's not afraid of the game," Texas manager Ron Washington said. "At 19 years old, that's special."
It was only Profar's second career start and third game overall. In his major league debut and first start last Saturday at Cleveland, Profar went 2 for 4, including a homer in his first plate appearance.
"A good first two games," Profar said with a smile.
Geovany Soto had a two-out double to deep center off Kyle Farnsworth (1-4). Profar then made it 3-2 when he drove in pinch-runner Leonys Martin on his hit past a diving Carlos Pena down the first-base line.
"As soon as Geno got that double, I was thinking we've got them," said Profar, whose parents were at the game.
Texas took a 4-2 lead when Josh Hamilton , who earlier hit his 40th homer this season, was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.
Mike Adams (5-3) threw a scoreless inning for the win before Joe Nathan pitched the 10th for his 31st save.
Pena was called out looking to end the game with a runner on second and was ejected for arguing the call by plate umpire Mike Estabrook.
"Their call stands," Pena said. "Was it a strike? No."
Tampa Bay tied it 2-all in the eighth when pinch-runner Rich Thompson scored from second after second baseman Ian Kinsler , positioned in shallow right field as part of a defensive shift, misplayed pinch-hitter Pena's two-out grounder.
Yu Darvish gave up two runs and two hits in eight innings for Texas, which played its third consecutive extra-inning game. Darvish, with eight strikeouts, set a team rookie record for a season with 196. The old mark was 189, set by Edwin Correa in 1986.
Chris Archer , filling in for the 17-game winner David Price , gave up two runs and four hits over seven innings in his third big league start. He struck out 11 and walked two.
"I was able to keep my team in the game," Archer said. "That was pretty much what our goal was."
Price was scratched from Saturday's start due to left shoulder soreness and is expected to return for a series next weekend at the New York Yankees .
Hamilton put the Rangers up 2-0 on a towering two-run shot to center off Archer in the fourth, giving him 119 RBIs.
"That's what good hitters do," Washington said. "And Hamilton is definitely one of the best in the American League and all of baseball."
Hamilton was hit by Archer's high pitch during his next at-bat in the sixth. Tampa Bay's Jose Molina stepped in front of Hamilton after the pitch, but the Rangers slugger appeared to briefly laugh with Molina before heading to first.
Both benches were warned by Estabrook.
"That was inappropriate," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "There was no intent on our part. It was a young umpire who did not want the game to get out of control. I understand that in a sense, but there was no intent on our part."
Hamilton is the fifth player in Rangers history to hit 40 or more homers in one season, joining Juan Gonzalez (five times), Rafael Palmeiro (three times), Alex Rodriguez (three times) and Mark Teixeira (one time).
After Sam Fuld singled leading off the first, Darvish didn't allow another baserunner until Jeff Keppinger started the sixth with a single. The Rangers right-hander walked Ryan Roberts and then threw a wild pitch that moved the runners to second and third.
Molina struck out before Fuld's RBI grounder cut the Rays' deficit to 2-1. B.J. Upton followed with a fly out.
"The razor-thin line between winning and losing was on display tonight," Maddon said.
Archer got help from Roberts, who grabbed Profar's one-hop shot at second base and turned it into an inning-ending double play with runners on first and third in the fifth.
Notes: Opponents had 25 consecutive successful stolen base attempts against the Rangers, dating to Aug. 6, until Soto threw out Fuld attempting to steal second in the first ... Tampa Bay LF Desmond Jennings was out of the starting lineup due to lower back stiffness. ... Rangers C Mike Napoli (left quadriceps) is set to join Double-A Frisco for a rehab assignment. ... Texas reliever Alexi Ogando has been slowed the past few days because of biceps tightness.