Buzzing on Yahoo Sports:

Loney leads Rays past Rangers

The SportsXchange

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Tampa Bay Rays first baseman James Loney had no problem with the Texas Rangers electing to intentionally walk third baseman Evan Longoria in the eighth inning Saturday night.

That decision brought up Loney with two runners on and one out and the Rays trailing by a run. His two-run opposite-field double off Rangers lefty Neal Cotts scored both runners and lead the Rays (4-2) to a 5-4 win over the Rangers (2-3) at Tropicana Field.

"I like it. I've got another guy on base and more RBI chances," Loney said, smiling. "Winning run's on base. You've got to love that."

Cotts had walked right fielder Wil Myers to lead off the inning. After a sacrifice bunt moved Myers to second, the Rangers elected to intentionally walk Longoria despite the fact that Cotts has put up better numbers against right-handed hitters like Longoria than lefties like Loney.

Still, Rays manager Joe Maddon said he couldn't blame the Rangers for making that decision, considering Longoria's history.

More than anything, Cotts regretted the leadoff walk to Myers.

"That's the big thing in the inning," Cotts said. "Had him down, and I let him go. He got on, free pass. Can't do that."

With the lead in hand in the ninth inning, Rays closer Grant Balfour set down the Rangers in order to secure his first save of the season.

After a dominant Opening Day start, Rays left-hander David Price gave up four runs on nine hits and struck out six in six innings. Those numbers look more impressive that the box score indicates, given that the lefty was so ill Friday night and before the game that Tampa Bay considered starting lefty reliever Cesar Ramos in Price's place.

"I don't think I have ever pitched feeling bad or feeling sick," Price said. "I don't feel like I get sick a whole lot. But that was good."

Just a few hours beforehand, Price was feeling so bad that he said he wouldn't have pitched if he'd had to decide early Saturday afternoon.

"Can't say enough about Dave. Everybody was really concerned, even immediately before the game. He was having some real health issues," Rays left fielder Matt Joyce said. "Everybody's kind of looking around, like, 'Oh, God, what do we do if he can't go?' But man, just a workhorse. If he can go, he's going to go and give you everything that he's got. You can't say enough about him."

Added Maddon: "Truly, I don't even know how he did that."

The Rangers got to Price early, as designated hitter Alex Rios drove hit a two-run double to left in the first inning, shortstop Elvis Andrus drove in another run with a second-inning single and catcher Robinson Chirinos scored on Choo's sacrifice fly in the fourth.

The Rays, meanwhile, got on the board with a pair of home runs. Fresh off signing a two-year contract extension, shortstop Yunel Escobar went deep to left field in the third inning off Rangers right-hander Nick Martinez, making his major league debut. With two outs and a runner on first in the fourth inning, Joyce launched his first homer of the season down the right-field line.

The 23-year-old Martinez had his contract officially purchased from Double-A Frisco before the game having made only five starts above Class A ball. He allowed three earned runs in his six innings.

"When he left the ballgame, he still gave us a lead, kept us in it," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "We just didn't shut it down."

From there, Rays relievers Jake McGee and Brandon Gomes held Texas in check long enough to set up Loney's game-winning hit -- and help improve their ailing ace's condition.

"Better," Price said when asked how he was feeling, "since we won."

NOTES: The Rays signed Yunel Escobar on Saturday to a two-year, $13 million contract extension covering the 2015-16 seasons with a one-year club option for 2017. The extension replaces Escobar's $5 million club option for 2015. Escobar, 31, approached Rays executive vice president Andrew Friedman this spring and expressed his desire to stay with the club, and the two sides worked out a deal. "I think it's one of the best things that ever happened in my career," Escobar said through an interpreter. ... Rays manager Joe Maddon successfully challenged a call at first base in the second inning, turning a Robinson Chirinos single into an out. Maddon is 2-for-2 on replay reviews this season. ... To make room for Martinez on the roster, the Rangers optioned RHP Daniel McCutchen to Double-A Frisco. ... C Chris Gimenez, a former Ray, has elected to become a free agent rather than accept the Rangers' outright assignment to Triple-A Round Rock. Gimenez was designated for assignment on April 1. ... Rays OF Wil Myers was honored in a pregame ceremony for winning the 2013 American League Rookie of the Year Award.
Sign up for Yahoo Fantasy Football
View Comments (2)