There's little reason to expect any less than another exciting matchup when two teams hoping to make a run in October conclude their season series Sunday at Tropicana Field.
Texas took two of three against Tampa Bay from Aug. 27-29, winning the first two games by a single run before falling 8-4 in the finale. The teams have split a pair of extra-inning affairs to open this set, as the Rays won 3-1 in 11 on Friday before the Rangers answered with a 4-2, 10-inning victory Saturday.
Jurickson Profar , a 19-year-old rookie, hit a tie-breaking RBI double in the 10th on Saturday, adding another exciting moment in his brief career to go along with a homer in his first major league at-bat last Sunday against Cleveland."He's not afraid of the game," Texas manager Ron Washington said. "At 19 years old, that's special."
Josh Hamilton hit his 40th homer and had three RBIs for AL-best Texas (83-56), which has a comfortable lead in the West. The Rays (76-63) are two games behind East co-leaders Baltimore and New York."The razor-thin line between winning and losing was on display tonight," Rays manager Joe Maddon said.
Tampa Bay, which has won five of seven despite Saturday's loss, will look to bounce back with help from James Shields (13-8, 3.88 ERA), whose only blemish in his last seven starts was a tough-luck, 1-0 loss Aug. 28 at Texas.
The right-hander allowed Ian Kinsler 's fourth-inning homer among three hits in seven innings of that contest. Shields had won his previous four regular-season starts against the two-time defending AL champs, who have knocked the Rays out of the playoffs in each of the last two seasons.
Shields improved to 5-1 with a 2.22 ERA over his last seven starts after allowing three runs in eight innings of a 4-3 win over the Yankees on Monday. He's 3-0 with a 2.40 ERA in four non-playoff home starts against the Rangers, who will counter with Roy Oswalt (4-2, 5.85) as he starts in place of Matt Harrison .
Washington has decided to push Harrison's start to Tuesday against the Indians in order to get him some extra rest for the stretch run.
"We're just trying to give (Harrison) an extra couple of days," Washington told the Rangers' official website. "He understands that last year we gave him a break and it helped him. He's the only one that's been on regular terms, so we're gonna do it right now and see where it takes us."
Oswalt allowed one run in 2 1-3 innings of relief in Tuesday's 6-3 loss to Kansas City. The right-hander's last start was Aug. 23, when he gave up four runs - three earned - in 5 1-3 innings of the Rangers' 10-6 win over Minnesota.
His only start versus the Rays was June 20, 2008, when he allowed two runs in 7 2-3 innings of a 4-3 win for Houston.
These teams have split eight meetings, meaning Sunday will decide the season series.
|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 08, 2012||Desmond Jennings||Day-to-Day||Lower back stiffness|
|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|
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- B.J. Upton's power display overshadowed a tremendous pitching performance by teammate James Shields .
Upton hit three home runs, Shields threw a two-hitter and the Tampa Bay Rays beat the Texas Rangers 6-0 on Sunday.
"You kind of dream about doing things like that and they don't happen very often," Upton said. "And to do that against a Ranger ballclub that pitches pretty well is a great feeling."
Upton hit solo homers in the first, fourth and sixth innings. He struck out in second, and received a standing ovation before hitting a broken-bat grounder to third in the eighth.
"They were talking to me about (hitting a fourth home run) in the dugout, but I wasn't trying to do that," Upton said. "I broke that bat and I wasn't too happy about that."
Upton joined Evan Longoria (2008) and Jonny Gomes (2005) as the only Tampa Bay players with three-homer games.
"He's player of the game as far as I'm concerned," Shields said. "Three home runs in one game ... it's probably the first time he's ever done that in a game. He's really locked in right now. He's one of the guys that, I told everyone this year, he's my pick to click and he's really showing it down the stretch here."
Tampa Bay took two of three in the weekend series against the AL West leaders. The first two games went extra innings. The Rays trail the AL East-leading New York Yankees by two games.
Shields (14-8) permitted just three baserunners. Elvis Andrus reached on a first-inning error, Nelson Cruz had an infield single in the second and David Murphy singled in the eighth.
" James Shields was on," Texas manager Ron Washington said. "He was really good. If you look at the game, you've got to give credit to James Shields . When a guy like that is pitching like that, it makes you look like you're lethargic."
Texas completed a 10-game road trip at 6-4.
"Today definitely wasn't our day," Rangers designated hitter Michael Young said.
Shields struck out eight in his second complete-game shutout this year. The other came in a 3-0 win over Oakland on July 31.
"Shieldsy was outstanding today and that was as good as he's thrown all year, and BJ's performance ... put those together and they were fun to watch," Rays manager Joe Maddon said.
Upton put the Rays up 1-0 on a first-pitch leadoff homer against Roy Oswalt (4-3) in the first. Matt Joyce , mired in an 8-for-60 slide, made it 2-0 later in the inning with an RBI double.
Upton had a fourth-inning shot off Martin Perez that extended the lead to 5-0. He also hit his 21st homer this season against the left-handed reliever in the sixth.
Oswalt, making his first start since Aug. 23, left after two innings because of right flexor muscle soreness near his elbow. The right-hander, who allowed four runs and six hits, took the place of 15-game winner Matt Harrison , who had his scheduled start pushed back from Sunday to Tuesday to allow for extra rest.
"I felt it on one pitch in the first, on my slider and it bit me a little bit," Oswalt said. "Couple days, it should be all right."
Tampa Bay went ahead 4-0 on Jose Molina 's two-run homer during the second. It was his sixth homer this season and first since Aug. 17.
NOTES: Tampa Bay LHP David Price (left shoulder soreness) will have a bullpen session on Tuesday. Maddon expects the 17-game winner to start either Friday or Saturday at the New York Yankees . ... Texas had won six straight series. ... Oswalt has given up 11 homers in 54 1-3 innings this season. ... Rays LF Desmond Jennings was out of the starting lineup for the second consecutive game because of lower back stiffness. He could return Tuesday. ... LHP Miguel De Los Santos, placed on waivers by Texas on Thursday, was claimed by Milwaukee. ... Texas struck out 35 times in the series. ... Both teams are off Monday. ... Tampa Bay plays at Baltimore, while Texas hosts Cleveland on Tuesday.