ARLINGTON, Texas – The first person David Price looked for after pitching the Tampa Bay Rays into the playoffs was third baseman Evan Longoria.
Price yelled after the two locked eyes, and they embraced to start the celebration.
“He just told me that he had a dream about it,” Longoria said. “It was awesome to feel that emotion from him. That’s what an ace does, that’s what a leader of a staff does. It was awesome to watch.”
Price, Longoria and the Tampa Bay Rays are going to the playoffs again, getting there with a victory in their final regular-season game for the second time in three years. They needed an extra game this time, however.
Price pitched his fourth complete game this year, Longoria hit a two-run homer and the Rays beat the Texas Rangers 5-2 in the A.L. wild-card tiebreaker game Monday night, the 163rd game for both teams.
When Price woke up Monday, all he could think about was throwing a complete game, then getting that last out and turning straight to Longoria.
“You’re probably supposed to go to your catcher first, but for what he’s done for us and what he’s done for me personally,” Price said. “I think about that type of stuff before I pitch all the time, but for it to happen today. I didn’t want to text him when I thought about it. I didn’t want to jinx it.”
The Rays face another must-win situation Wednesday night at Cleveland in the A.L. wild-card game, Tampa’s third game in three cities in a four-day stretch. The winner faces Boston in the division series.
Price (10-8), the reigning A.L. Cy Young winner, had a 10.26 ERA in four previous starts at Rangers Ballpark. He was superb in this one, striking out four and walking one. He picked off two runners while allowing seven hits and throwing 81 of 118 pitches for strikes.
“If I don’t get those two outs on the pickoff moves, I have to get the next guys out,” Price said. “It forces me to throw at least 10 more pitches.”
Longoria had three hits, continuing his stellar play in the last game of regular seasons. He is hitting .579 (11 for 19) in those finales with seven homers and 10 RBIs, according to STATS.
“I wish I could explain it,” he said. “I wish I could bottle it up and take it through 161 games and not have it be on the last day.”