Tampa Bay players pour beer and champagne on pitcher David Price as they celebrate after beating the Texas Rangers 5-2 in an American League wild-card tiebreaker baseball game Monday. The Rays advance to face the Cleveland Indians in Wednesday’s American League wild-card playoff. (Tony Gutierrez/AP)
ARLINGTON, Texas — David Price, Evan Longoria and the Tampa Bay Rays are going to playoffs again, getting there with a victory in their final regular-season game for the second time in three years.
They needed an extra game this time.
Price threw his fourth complete game of the season, Longoria hit a two-run homer and the Rays beat the Texas Rangers 5-2 in the AL wild-card tiebreaker Monday night, the 163rd game for both teams.
As soon as Price got the final out, he locked eyes with Longoria and they went straight to each other to start the celebration.
“He just told me that he had a dream about it,” Longoria said.
Luckily for manager Joe Maddon and the Rays, they weren’t done in by another blown call in Texas — though this one did cost them at least one run.
The Rays face another must-win situation Wednesday night at Cleveland in the AL wild-card game — the winner faces Boston in the division series.
In the playoffs for the fourth time in six years, Tampa Bay won four of six from the Indians during the regular season.
Price (10-8), the reigning AL Cy Young winner, had a 10.26 ERA in four previous starts at Rangers Ballpark. He was superb in this one, striking out four and walking one. He picked off two runners while allowing seven hits and throwing 81 of 118 pitches for strikes.
“When you can get outs without throwing pitches that’s always huge,” Price said. “If I don’t get those two outs on the pickoff moves, I have to get the next guys out. It forces me to throw at least 10 more pitches.”
The 28-year-old lefty reached 10 wins for the fifth straight season.
He missed more than six weeks because of a triceps strain but is 9-4 in 13 starts since returning July 2 from his first career stint on the disabled list.
Longoria had three hits, continuing his stellar play in the last game of regular seasons.