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Rangers Take Commanding ALDS Lead, Push Rays To Brink

(Sports Network) – C.J. Wilson spun 6 1/3 scoreless innings while Michael Young and Ian Kinsler hit home runs to lead Texas to a 6-0 win over Tampa Bay and a commanding 2-0 lead in the best-of-five American League Division Series.

Wilson (1-0) allowed two hits, walked two, hit a batter and struck out seven in putting the Rangers on the brink of winning their first-ever playoff series. Darren Oliver tossed 2 1/3 scoreless innings to complete the Rangers’ first-ever postseason shutout.

The left-handed starting tandem of Wilson and Cliff Lee has held the offensively-challenged Rays to a lone run on seven hits and two walks while fanning 17 in the first two contests.

James Shields (0-1) suffered the loss after allowing four runs on four hits and two critical hit batters, with a pair of strikeouts, for the Rays, who face the prospect of having to win three consecutive games to keep their season alive.

The 2001 New York Yankees, who downed the Oakland Athletics, are the only team to win a five-game series after losing the first two games at home.

Game 3 of the series will be played Saturday at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

Matt Treanor was hit by a pitch to start the third inning, advanced to second on a groundout and moved to third on an infield hit by Elvis Andrus that was gloved by a diving Sean Rodriguez behind second base.

Shields then made an errant pickoff attempt at first base allowing Treanor to dash in from third with the game’s first run. Andrus stole second and moved to third on a groundout and was stranded there when Josh Hamilton flied out.

Kinsler’s solo blast on a 2-0 offering with two outs in the fourth put the visitors on top, 2-0.

Texas blew the game open with a four-spot in the fifth, featuring another long ball and a call that seemed to go against the hosts that changed the complexion of the inning.

Treanor was hit by a pitch to start the frame and was thrown out at second on a Julio Borbon sacrifice bunt attempt. Andrus followed with a single to left that chased Shields from the game.

Chad Qualls took over and appeared to have struck out Young on a 2-2 pitch that was ruled a check swing instead of a swinging third strike. Young took advantage of the at-bat continuing by blasting the next pitch to straightaway center for a three-run homer that extended the Rangers’ lead to 5-0.

Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon was visibly upset on his way to the mound to seemingly remove Qualls from the game and engaged first base umpire Jerry Meals, who confirmed the ruling on appeal, in a debate over the call. Maddon then waited for home plate umpire Jim Wolf to reach the hill before vociferously expressing his displeasure with the turn of events. Wolf tossed Maddon from the proceedings, resulting in the skipper’s sixth ejection of the season.

After Josh Hamilton singled, Vladimir Guerrero reached on a fielder’s choice, advanced to third on Nelson Cruz’s single to right and scored when Kinsler ripped a base hit to left that made it 6-0 and finally forced Qualls out of the game.

Meanwhile, Wilson allowed a leadoff single to Jason Bartlett in the first before setting down the next ten hitters in succession.

Carl Crawford reached on a Kinsler fielding error with one out in the fourth, but the southpaw got Evan Longoria and Ben Zobrist to fly out and end the inning.

Wilson issued a walk in the fifth and hit a batter in the sixth but neither advanced past first base.

Zobrist drew a leadoff walk in the seventh and advanced to third when Willy Aybar doubled off the wall in center just out of the reach of a leaping Hamilton. Kelly Shoppach thought he drew a walk to load the bases but was called out on strikes for the first out of the frame that also closed Wilson’s performance.

Darren O’Day assumed the hill and struck out pinch-hitter Matt Joyce and gave way to Oliver. The veteran southpaw walked pinch-hitter Dan Johnson to fill the bases for Bartlett, who flied out to center on the first pitch.

Oliver then retired the side in order in the eighth and ninth innings to close out the win.

Game Notes

The six runs scored by Texas matched the single game franchise record in the postseason, established in a 6-2 win over the Yankees in Game 1 of the 1996 ALDS, their lone playoff win before Wednesday…The Rangers have hit two long balls in each of the first two games of the series to match the franchise record set in Games 1 & 2 of the ‘96 ALDS…Texas is 25-9 in Wilson’s 34 starts this season…Guerrero went 0-for-4 and lost a 10-game postseason hit streak that started last season with the LA Angels…The Rays are 36-22 against left-hand starting pitchers this season, including the playoffs. Tampa Bay is now 8-10 overall in the postseason and 5-5 at home…Shields made his fifth postseason start, all at home…He was 1-1 against the Rangers this season and is 3-2 in six career regular season turns against them…Longoria turned 25 Thursday…Florida governor Charlie Crist threw out the ceremonial first pitch before the game.

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.