ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Gratified to finally be in the playoffs, Michael Young and the Texas Rangers are making the most of their opportunity.
Young hit a three-run homer one pitch after keeping his at-bat alive with a disputed check-swing, helping C.J. Wilson and the A.L. West champions beat the Tampa Bay Rays 6-0 Thursday for a 2-0 lead in their division series.
“I just think that we’ve had a great mentality these first two games,” Young said. “We’re not really thinking about some huge, grand picture here. We empty the bank for the game we’re playing that day.”
Texas is the only current major league franchise that’s never won a playoff series. After winning consecutive games on the road, that can change with one victory when the best-of-5 matchup shifts to Rangers Ballpark this weekend.
Game 3 is Saturday, with Matt Garza pitching for Tampa Bay against Colby Lewis.
“Being up 2-0 is huge, especially winning two on the road. But we still haven’t accomplished anything yet,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “Our goal is to get as far as we possibly can, and we’re just going to take it back to Texas and come out and try to play as hard as we can again.”
Ian Kinsler also homered for the Rangers, who are in the playoffs for the first time since 1999 and hadn’t won a postseason game in 14 years before Cliff Lee shut down the sputtering Rays in their home park on Wednesday.
Wilson was impressive, allowing two hits in 6 2/3 innings. He gave up a single to leadoff man Jason Bartlett to start the game, then limited the Rays to three baserunners on an error, a walk and a hit batter over the next five innings.
Willy Aybar doubled in the seventh for the second hit off the Texas starter, who departed with runners at second and third. Darren O’Day struck out pinch-hitter Matt Joyce, and Darren Oliver got four outs to finish the two-hitter before a sellout crowd of 35,535.