Joe Nathan digs in the dirt after giving up a game-tying home run.
Wednesday's extra-innings loss to Tampa Bay after the Texas Rangers claimed the lead in the 11th only to blow it in the 12th wasn't a season-ender. But it was still a pretty bad loss to take with tonight's series finale against the Rays, who are contending for the same postseason status as the Rangers are.
The Rangers' struggling offense showed life for a second straight night and staked the Rangers to another early lead after going 63 innings without a lead heading into Tuesday's game. Derek Holland had a nice rebound start after three awful September outings. Elvis Andrus was aggressive on the bases and Adrian Beltre got a key hit with a runner on base. Everything fell into place for the Rangers to ensure themselves no worse than a series split and leaving Tampa with no worse than a tie for first place in the AL Wild Card race with 10 games remaining.
Then, in very un-Rangers-like fashion, the Texas bullpen blew it all as Joe Nathan blew his third save of the season after allowing a two-out walk, a stolen base and an RBI single. Then, Joe Ortiz, yes, Joe Ortiz took the loss when he allowed back-to-back singles in the 12th inning.
Now, the Rangers face a near-must-win in Thursday's finale against a guy they've never had success against in Tampa Bay starter Matt Moore.
With the remaining schedules of the contending teams, it still seems the Rangers should be able to claim one of the two spots, but a win on Thursday would go a long way toward ensuring that.