The Tampa Bay Rays and the Texas Rangers will face off Monday night in Game 163, a tie-breaker to see which team will compete with the Cleveland Indians for the American League Wild Card spot in Major League Baseball’s 2013 Postseason.
The game, which begins at 8:07 EST at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, became necessary when both teams won their respective season finales on Sunday, finishing with identical 91-71 records. Texas defeated the visiting Los Angeles Angels 7-2 while Tampa Bay squeaked past the Toronto Blue Jays to the tune of 7-6 on the road. The winner of Monday night’s tie-breaker will head to Cleveland on Wednesday to take on the Indians.
“To get into the postseason, that’s been our main goal since the first day of the season, to put ourselves in a position at the end of the year to play postseason baseball, and that’s what we’ve done,” said Rays LHP David Price. “And we keep with the same mindset with one more game, and we did a good job today.”
As Monday night’s starting pitcher, Price and his team are no strangers to the Rangers in the postseason. Texas has twice played spoiler for the Rays, knocking Tampa Bay out in the American League Division Series in 2010 and 2011 before going on to lose the World Series both years. Texas rookie left-hander Martin Perez gets the start opposite Price for his home team Rangers.
“Tampa Bay is coming into town, now we have to keep our game elevated and do what we have been doing. We don’t change anything,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “Just continue to play Texas Rangers baseball and hope to sustain it for a long time to come.”
Game 163, to be broadcast on TBS, will see the return of Rangers fan favorite Nelson Cruz. Texas will activate the outfielder after serving a 50-game suspension for violating Major League Baseball’s Basic Agreement and its Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment program, one of several players suspended from the investigation into Miami’s Biogenesis and the purchase of performance-enhancing drugs. Cruz looks to be a key factor in Game 163, boasting an impressive 9-for-21 lifetime record facing Price, including three home runs.
“We’re playing really good baseball, and the guys are excited,” Cruz said. “I’m excited and I’m happy to be back and be with my teammates and play the game that I love.”