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Rangers make it two in a row over slumping Rays

C.J. Wilson holds Tampa Bay to two hits over 6 1/3 innings and Michael Young delivers a three-run home run after a controversial check swing in a 6-0 rout.

October 08, 2010|By Mark Gonzales

Reporting from St. Petersburg, Fla. — Whether it's a key pitch or clutch hit, the Texas Rangers have overcome the shortcomings that haunted them during an 11-year playoff drought.

Their relentless nature has been the final ingredient to vault them to a 2-0 lead in their best-of-five American League division series after Thursday's 6-0 victory here, pushing the Tampa Bay Rays to the brink of elimination.

"We came in here and emptied the tank in Game 2, and that's how we're going to approach it," said Rangers third baseman Michael Young, who became the center of controversy one pitch before he hit a three-run homer off Rays reliever Chad Qualls that highlighted a four-run fifth inning.

The Rays, who have been limited to one run and are one for 13 with nine strikeouts with runners in scoring position, didn't get the break they needed when first base umpire Jerry Meals ruled Young checked his swing on a 2-2 pitch.

"If [Meals] had rung me up, I would have walked back to the dugout and focused on my defense like I usually do," Young said.

After Young's homer, plate umpire Jim Wolf ejected Rays Manager Joe Maddon for arguing the checked swing call, but Maddon admitted, "You can't win games by just getting two hits."

Rangers left-hander C.J. Wilson, a former reliever, limited the Rays to two hits in 6 1/3 innings, and Darren O'Day and Darren Oliver came out of the bullpen to help him get out of a seventh-inning jam. Wilson became the first Rangers starting pitcher to hold an opponent scoreless in a postseason start.

"Our pitching took their fans out of it early," Rangers President Nolan Ryan said. "And then our offense took them out of it early by tacking on runs. That's demoralizing, so it's just hard to build some momentum."

Qualls had just entered the game in relief of starter James Shields when he gave up the home run to Young. Shields, who was 0-4 in his last six starts during the regular season, lasted 4 1/3 innings as Maddon managed with a sense of urgency.

Late in the game some Rays fans sensed this could have been the final game at Tropicana Field in a home uniform for marquee free agent Carl Crawford and chanted his name in the top of the ninth.

"I try not to get emotional about too many things, but you know it was a time when you have things start running through your head," Crawford said. "That's another reason why I didn't really want to embrace it all the way because I'm hoping this is not my last" home game as a Ray.

Of 19 teams that have fallen behind 2-0 in an ALDS, only four have rallied to win the series.

And while the Rays have struggled mightily, the Rangers came through with three hits after Young's homer to provide more comfort for Wilson. The series moves to Arlington, Texas, for Game 3 on Saturday.

"It's like once the seal breaks and we get that first hit, that first run," Wilson said. "You see the energy spike in the clubhouse."

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