ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Texas Rangers rookie Mitch Moreland made his postseason debut in Thursday's 6-0 whitewash of the Tampa Rays. It was filled with the usual nerves, ups and downs and, oh yeah, two tremendous defensive plays.
Moreland went 0-for-4 at the plate, but he made his mark quickly in the first inning. Starting pitcher C.J. Wilson gave up a hard-hit single to Jason Bartlett to start the bottom of the first. The base hit got the sold-out Tropicana Field rocking. B.J. Upton came up next and lifted a bloop in foul territory between home plate and first base.
Moreland raced toward the fast-sinking pop-up, dove and made the grab, fully stretched, for the first out of the inning. Wilson went on to get the next two batters in what became a run of 10 consecutive outs.
"He [Upton] got jammed pretty good and I was going to make an attempt at it and was able to get there in time and get the first out and get it rolling," said Moreland, who then got a certain hand sign from the pitcher. "He actually gave the deer. He picked me up, of course, and went on and did his thing."
The down side was an 0-for-4 performance at the plate, with none hit particularly well.
But, Moreland got to end the game in style. He got the first out of the game and made the final out, an on-the-run grab on Kelly Shoppach's high pop in foul ground near the right-field stands.
The left-handed Moreland could very well find himself back in the lineup for the potential series-clinching Game 3 at Rangers Ballpark in Arilington on Saturday. The Rays will throw right-hander Matt Garza.
"I didn't do a whole lot at the plate, but the way our guys are swinging it right now, you just go play and you just contribute any way you can," Moreland said. "I come in every day and look forward to contributing. If I'm in there vs. righties, lefties, if I'm not in there, I'm happy to be here and do what I can."