Tampa Bay Rays at Texas Rangers (+105, 7.5)
It is a must-win scenario for the Tampa Bay Rays and host Texas Rangers on Monday if they wish to advance to a second must-win situation. The two teams tied for the second American League wild-card spot and will break the tie for the right to meet the Cleveland Indians in Wednesday’s one-game round. Texas has won seven straight games and Tampa Bay has won eight of its last 10 contests.
Rays ace David Price starts against Rangers rookie Martin Perez and Texas announced that power-hitting outfielder Nelson Cruz will be activated for Monday’s game. Cruz’s 50-game suspension for performance-enhancing drugs ended Sunday and he has fared well against Price, going 6-for-12 with two homers against the left-hander. Price is fired up about getting the ball in the tiebreaker. “This is a moment that I want to be in,” he said. “I want to be able to relish the moment and go out there and have fun.”
TV: 8:07 p.m. ET, TBS
LINE: Texas opened as a +119 home underdog and has been bet down to +105, taking Tampa Bay down from -129 to -116. The total has stayed steady at 7.5 runs.
WEATHER: Temperatures in the mid 70s, clear skies and winds blowing south at 6 mph.
PITCHING MATCHUP: Rays LH David Price (9-8, 3.39 ERA) vs. Rangers LH Martin Perez (10-5, 3.55)
Price didn’t face the Rangers this season but has traditionally struggled against them, going 1-4 with a 5.98 ERA in eight career outings. After being sensational in July and August, Price was 1-2 with a 3.78 ERA in five September starts. He has pitched at least seven innings in four of his last six turns.
The 22-year-old Perez won seven of his last nine decisions as one of Texas’ most-reliable starters over the second half of the season. He didn’t face the Rays this season and his lone career outing against them was a five-inning stint last season in which he gave up two runs and seven hits. Perez has allowed three or fewer runs in nine of his last 11 starts.
* Over is 3-0-1 in the last four meetings.
* Under is 3-1-1 in the last five meetings in Texas.
* Under is 5-2 in Prices last seven starts vs. Rangers.
* Rays are 2-5 in Prices last seven starts vs. Rangers.
1. Texas defeated Tampa Bay in the AL Division Series in 2010 and 2011 en route to back-to-back World Series appearances.
2. The Rangers earned the right to host the play-in game because they won the regular-season series 4-3. The teams split a four-game series in mid-September.
3. Rangers OF Alex Rios is batting .435 with two homers and seven RBIs in 23 career at-bats against Price.