Rays, Rangers need to play a tiebreaker

Indians await as top wild card

James Loney (left), Matt Joyce (center), and Sam Fuld celebrate the Rays’ victory.
frank gunn/AP/the canadian press
James Loney (left), Matt Joyce (center), and Sam Fuld celebrate the Rays’ victory.

The Tampa Bay Rays and Texas Rangers are pushing this regular season to game No. 163.

On Sunday, Tampa Bay and Texas both won and wound up even, forcing a tiebreaker for the second American League wild-card spot.

The Rays will play at Texas on Monday night, with the winner visiting Cleveland on Wednesday night in another all-or-nothing matchup.


Rangers rookie Martin Perez starts against reigning AL Cy Young winner David Price. Texas gets a boost, too — All-Star slugger Nelson Cruz will be active after his 50-game penalty from Major League Baseball in the Biogenesis drug scandal.

Get Breaking Sports Alerts in your inbox:
Be the first to know the latest sports news as it happens.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

‘‘He’s served his suspension,’’ Rays star Evan Longoria said. ‘‘It is what it is. Justice has been served.’’

Asked if he expected to play, Cruz said: ‘‘I think so.’’

It will be baseball’s first tiebreaker — officially, this is a regular-season game and the stats count — since Minnesota beat Detroit, 6-5, in 12 innings for the 2009 AL Central title.

What was supposed to be the final day of the regular season began with the possibility of a three-way tie for a pair of AL wild-card spots.

Manager Ron Washington (center) leads the cheers after the Rangers scored in the sixth.

Instead, Cleveland clinched its first postseason berth since 2007, winning, 5-1, at Minnesota behind Nick Swisher’s home run to finish at 92-70 and one game ahead of Texas and Tampa Bay as the top wild card.

‘‘I'm telling you, we’re bringing that wild-card game back to the 216 and that place is going to be packed out and rockin’, baby!’’ Nick Swisher said, citing Cleveland’s area code.

Ubaldo Jimenez (13-9) gave up one run and five hits in 6 innings for the Indians, who mobbed each other on the diamond after the final out.

‘‘I'm so crazy about this group of guys,’’ said Indians first-year manager Terry Francona. ‘‘From ownership to baseball ops to the clubhouse guys, to be able to stand here and say the Indians are going to the playoffs, I'm so proud.’’

Scott Diamond (6-13) gave up four runs — two earned — and seven hits for the Twins (66-96).


Carlos Santana and Yan Gomes also drove in runs for the Indians.

Rookie Danny Salazar is set to start the wild-card game for the Indians against Texas or Tampa Bay.

Texas won its seventh in a row, downing the visiting Los Angeles Angels, 6-2.

Craig Gentry had a key two-run single and Geovany Soto had a tiebreaking RBI double and a solo homer for the Rangers.

‘‘They showed heart, fight, guts — any other adjective you want to find,’’ Rangers manager Ron Washington said.

The Rangers (91-71) began September with the AL West lead before a 5-15 slide, forcing them to rally just to force the tiebreaker.

‘‘You can’t say enough. Just the fight, the character of this team,’’ Gentry said. ‘‘From being about as low as we could possibly be and almost everybody probably counting us out, and to come home and play the way we have.’’

Tampa Bay held on for a 7-6 win at Toronto.

Longoria hit an RBI double as the Rays used their highest-scoring first inning since 2010 to go ahead early. Tampa Bay took a 7-0 lead into the sixth before Toronto rallied.

To the Rays, this tiebreaker is a chance for payback. Texas beat Tampa Bay in the Division Series in 2010 and 2011. The Rangers are hosting this game because they won the season series, 4-3.

‘‘We have something to prove in Texas,’’ Longoria said. ‘‘We've left that place too many times with our heads down and disappointed. I feel like now is the time to be able to turn that page.’’