MINNEAPOLIS — The Rangers arrive at Tropicana Field tonight for the beginning of a four-game series tied with the Rays for the lead in the American League wild-card standings.
The Indians are only a half-game behind both teams.
RHP Matt Garza, the MVP of the 2008 American League Championship Series while a member of the Rays, will face his old team tonight.
Garza remains close to several of his old teammates, exchanging texts on a regular basis with LHP David Price and manager Joe Maddon.
That he pitched in Tampa Bay for three seasons will not give the Rays any advantages, Maddon said. That Garza is emotional and is not fond of being bunted on could impact the Rays’ approach.
“The big thing there is, when you have the opportunity to score something, he’s the kind of guy you have to score runs with outs because he can be so tough,” Maddon said. “He’s one of the more elite pitchers, I think, in the game right now. He presents a lot of challenges. Our work of him versus us, he’s pretty good. Doing our numbers and how it all plays out, he’s going to be a very, very difficult challenge for us.”
Price loses head game
A better job by the bullpen, and Price would have snapped his three-game losing streak. But Price said a better job by him would have done the trick, as well.
Price received a no-decision Sunday in the Rays’ 6-4 loss to the Twins at Target Field. He allowed only two runs in 6Ŗ innings, and those scored with LHP Jake McGee pithing. But Price, who threw a career-high 127 pitches in his previous start, had runners on base nearly every inning and left the bases loaded for McGee in the seventh inning.
“Honestly, I put too much pressure on myself to go out there and be perfect,” Price said. “I got in my own head. I was in my own head the entire day. I was able to pitch out of jams early. It’s not easy to do, especially when you have inning after inning with runners in scoring position and nobody out.”
Price said several things worked against him: He said his pregame bullpen session was his best ever and he wanted to prove to Maddon that he can handle the heavy workload from his previous start.
“I wanted to go out there and make sure that he knows that just because he gave me that many pitches five days ago, I could go out there and throw my game,” Price said. “I was in my own head today. I felt great. I kind of played against myself.”
Beckham on his way?
Durham Bulls INF Tim Beckham, the first overall pick in the 2008 draft, could receive his first big-league promotion this week, and he could join the Rays today.
The Bulls won the International League title Saturday night and play Omaha on Tuesday for the Triple-A title.
Beckham could miss the championship game if the Rays feel the need to add infield depth is a top priority entering the four-game series with the Rangers. Beckham also could join the Rays midweek along with RHP Jake Odorizzi and LHP Jeff Beliveau, who are expected to return to the Rays after Durham’s final game.
RF Wil Myers said his fourth-inning home run, estimated at 440 feet, was the second-longest homer of his career, behind one he hit this season while with Durham. “That ball was the farthest home run I’ve seen all year,” Maddon said. “When that left, that was zero gravity.” ... McGee replaced Price with the bases loaded and allowed two runners to score. McGee has allowed 17 of 37 inherited runners to score this season. ... Maddon said the rule regarding the winning pitcher should be changed so the starter could be eligible for the victory despite not pitching the required five innings. LHP Matt Moore threw three scoreless innings in Saturday’s win, but the official scorer awarded RHP Brandon Gomes the win, despite Gomes pitching one inning. ... Durham won its fourth IL title in the past 12 years, the second under manager Charlie Montoyo. ... 2B Ben Zobrist returned to the lineup after getting Saturday off and had two hits, snapping an 0-for-16 skid with a fourth-inning single. ... The Rays set a franchise record for shutout innings at 27, breaking the mark of 26 set earlier this season.