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Defense wins the day as Rangers grab Wild Card opener 4-0 over Rays

The Texas Rangers lead the Best of 3 series 1-0

Wild Card Series - Texas Rangers v Tampa Bay Rays - Game One Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

The Texas Rangers scored four runs while the Tampa Bay Rays were held scoreless.

The Rangers have perhaps found an advantage to exploit.

Texas was excellent this season in the field. Their season total of just 57 errors was only one more than the Arizona Diamondbacks for fewest in the big leagues in 2023 and was the fewest by a club in franchise history. Their UZR per 150 game basis sat at 5.1 as a team, third best in baseball. Meanwhile, the Rays were middle of the pack with the gloves this season with an UZR/150 of 0.1, 14th in the big leagues.

Today, the Rangers were all over the field making highlight-worthy plays while the Rays were bumbling around while committing four errors that helped facilitate rallies for Texas when hits with RISP continued to evade them.

The Rangers stuck to their game plan and it paid off for them. They worked Tampa Bay starter Tyler Glasnow as he needed 98 pitches to make it through five stress-filled innings. Glasnow buckled down when he needed to for much of the afternoon but he ultimate allowed four Rangers runs (three earned) on six hits and five walks.

Leading the way? Corey Seager and Evan Carter. Seager you’d expect. He’d be the league’s MVP if he weren’t sharing the space with the greatest outlier in baseball history. Carter though is barely 21 years old and had 23 big league games to his name before today’s contest.

Seager went 2-for-4 with a walk and the hit with RISP that drove in two insurance runs in the 6th and seemed to break Tampa Bay’s back. Carter however was the standard bearer for what Texas wants to be at the plate.

The young left fielder went 2-for-2 with two doubles and two walks as he worked the count and made Glasnow and the Rays pay any time they got frustrated enough to give him something to hit. The discipline at the dish is special and Carter is now showing it off in October in front of the whole world.

That Texas didn’t score more was an upset. Indeed the Rangers went just 2-for-13 with runners in scoring position and left 13 on base. It should have been a blowout with TB helping to beat themselves. But beggars cannot be choosers in these playoffs.

The Rangers are now 6-0 at The Trop in October and they now get two cracks at moving on to the ALDS with just one more win advancing them.

Player of the Game: None of the efforts of the Carters and Seagers nor Rays errors would have mattered had today’s starter Jordan Montgomery not allowed the spirit of Cliff Lee to enter him as he proceeded to shove against a tough Rays lineup that hits the dickens out of left-handed pitching.

Montgomery tossed seven shutout frames for Texas while scattering six hits. Montgomery did not walk a batter and struck out five in his 93 pitches.

The Rangers as a franchise has been sunk almost exclusively due to poor pitching throughout their 50+ years of existence. When an outing like this happens for them in a playoff game, it must be savored.

Up Next: The Rangers can win this series with a victory tomorrow as RHP Nathan Eovaldi takes the bump for Texas opposite RHP Zach Eflin for Tampa Bay.

It’s same time, same place, same channel for Game 2 as the Wednesday first pitch from Tropicana Field is set for 2:08 pm CT and will be aired on ABC.