BY: Richard W. Humphrey
Texas lost 4-0 in 10 innings Sunday to get eliminated from the West Division championship and fall further behind in the American League Wild Card race. Justin Maxwell hit a walk-off grand slam home run off Joakim Soria to keep the Royals’ playoff hopes alive.
The Rangers’ Alexi Ogando was magnificent in his second start since being activated from the disabled list this month. His fast ball touched 97, his breaking ball was sharp, and his command was excellent. He gave up two hits and a walk in seven shutout innings. For the month of September, Ogando has made two starts and four relief appearances, pitching a total of 18 innings in which he has allowed five hits and one earned run for an ERA of 0.50.
The Rangers’ bullpen kept KC off the scoreboard in the 8th and 9th innings to force overtime. The Royals loaded the bases to start the 10th on a double, an intentional walk and an infield hit. The Rangers appeared to have a chance to escape as Soria coaxed a pop out and force out at home plate. Maxwell however made the third at bat of the inning with the bases loaded a charm. He blasted a 3-2 fastball well into the left field seats for the game winner.
Earlier in the day, the Rays beat Baltimore 3-1, and Cleveland beat Houston 9-2 to hang on to the top two spots in the Wild Card race. Texas is in third place 1.5 games behind the Indians (one in the loss column). The next three are close to elimination – Kansas City despite taking two of three from the Rangers this weekend, trails by 3.5 games, New York is four behind, and Baltimore is 4.5 games out. All the other teams have been eliminated from the Wild Card chase. and New York at four are all but eliminated. All of these teams have six or seven games remaining.
Texas is back in Arlington on Monday to finish the season with three games against the Astros, followed by four against the Angels. Texas finished with the best road record in the Majors at 45-36, but that is of little solace as Sunday’s loss means they no longer have their fate in their own hands. Even if the Rangers win all seven remaining games, Texas needs help from other teams to make the playoffs.
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