(Photo credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports)
Nathan Eovaldi tossed 6 2/3 strong innings to fuel the Texas Rangers to a sweep of their American League wild-card series on Wednesday, courtesy of a 7-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Evan Carter belted a two-run homer and Adolis Garcia also went deep for the fifth-seeded Rangers, who advance to face the Baltimore Orioles in the AL Division Series. Game 1 of the best-of-five series is Saturday in Baltimore.
"It was just a little bit longer road than we expected or wanted," Carter told Bally Sports Southwest, referring to Texas' failure to win the division. "But hey, we're there now and we're ready to get after it."
Texas' Josh Jung ripped an RBI triple among his three hits and Marcus Semien and Corey Seager had back-to-back RBI doubles. Seager recorded his second straight two-hit performance of the series.
The offense was more than enough for Eovaldi (1-0), who allowed one run on six hits and struck out eight without walking a batter.
He exited after surrendering Curtis Mead's RBI single to left field with two outs in the seventh inning. Josh Sborz induced rookie Junior Caminero to fly out to end the threat.
Sborz pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings before Jose Leclerc retired the side in the ninth to hand the fourth-seeded Rays their second straight sweep in the AL wild-card series in as many years. Tampa Bay, which dropped a 4-0 decision in the series opener on Tuesday, mustered just one run in 24 innings in last year's loss to the Cleveland Guardians.
"Yeah, it's frustrating, but it's part of the game," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "I'm glad we scored the run, because if not then we would be talking about that a lot. Our bats just didn't come to life, and they pitched really, really well."
Texas opened the scoring with a four-run outburst in the fourth inning.
Garcia deposited a 1-1 cutter from Zach Eflin (0-1) over the wall in left field to lead off the fourth inning. Eflin retired the next two batters before Leody Taveras singled and stole second before coming around to score on Jung's triple to right field.
Jung was able to trot home after Carter sent a first-pitch cutter from Eflin over the wall in right-center field to stake the Rangers to a 4-0 lead.
Seager scored on a groundout in the fifth inning before Texas tacked on two more runs in the sixth. Jung hit a one-out ground-rule double and Semien and Seager followed with consecutive doubles.
Eflin took the loss after permitting five runs (four earned) on eight hits in five innings.
"They outplayed us," Cash said. "That's a good Rangers team over there, and we just got outplayed."
--Field Level Media