Tuesday, November 5, 2013
Defining Dozen: Longoria's HR ends Rangers' season
By Todd Wills
Editor's Note: This is the 12th of a 12-part series titled "Defining Dozen," which looks at the 12 moments that impacted the 2013 season the most. We will count down from 12 to 1. The moments will include highs and lows for the Texas Rangers from a season that lasted until Game 163.
Evan Longoria's home run doomed the Rangers in the wild-card tiebreaker game.
No. 1: Game 163 and Longoria's home run
The Rangers' 2013 season, one that was accompanied with some huge highs and some major lows, came to a screeching halt in the American League wild-card tiebreaker game on Sept. 30 in Arlington.
Longoria, who always seems to produce big moments late in the season, did it again against the Rangers, belting a long two-run home run to right-center field in the top of the third inning to give the Rays and ace David Price a 3-0 lead. Price stymied Texas from there, throwing a complete game for a 5-2 victory as the Rays finally won a big game against the Rangers after being eliminated by them in the 2010 and 2011 AL Divisional Series.
Longoria's home run off rookie Martin Perez was a towering one. From the crack of the bat, it looked to be out of the park, even though Rangers center fielder Leonys Martin appeared to have a chance at a miracle catch, only to have the baseball travel over his glove.
Longoria also had a one-out double in the top of the sixth and scored on pinch hitter David DeJesus's RBI single to give the Rays a 4-1 lead. Longoria, who had three hits in the game, has been a terror in the final game of the regular season. He is hitting .579 (11 for 19) in those finales with seven homers and 10 RBIs.
"I wish I could explain it," Longoria said. "I wish I could bottle it up and take it through 161 games and not have it be on the last day."
For the Rangers, it was one final disappointment in 2013. They gave away the AL West lead with a horrid stretch in September, only to rally and win seven straight games to close out the season and force the one-game playoff with the Rays.
A win would have given the Rangers their fourth consecutive postseason appearance. But it wasn't meant to be, even though the Rangers got suspended outfielder Nelson Cruz back after missing 50 games. He was 0-for-4 with a strikeout as Price picked off two runners, ending a brutal season for the Rangers as far as baserunning goes.
"I'm disappointed. We didn't get it done," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "I've got no excuse for that."