Game 5 it is.
The Rays scored early and managed to hang on for a Game 4 ALDS victory on Sunday afternoon in Arlington, Texas, forcing a series-deciding showdown scheduled for Tuesday at Tropicana Field in Tampa Bay.
Rays third baseman Evan Longoria homered and hit two doubles, Carlos Pena had a double and a triple, and rookie Wade Davis struck out seven batters over a solid five-inning outing as the Rays rolled to a 5-2 win. Rafael Soriano finished it all off with a flawless ninth, earning his first postseason save.
The Rangers had their way with the Rays in the first two games of the series, taking meeting No. 1 by a score of 5-1 and the second meeting by a score of 5-0. But the Rays woke up on their flight to Texas and have outplayed the Rangers on consecutive days.
Tampa will send left-handed ace David Price to the hill for Tuesday’s Game 5 and the Rangers will go with Cliff Lee. It should be a wild one, especially if the Rays can fill their building.
Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that the Phillies are close to signing free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit. An announcement is expected before the winter meetings end on Thursday.
Benoit, 39, has quietly been among the better relievers in baseball over the past seven years. This past season with the Mariners and Blue Jays, the right-hander put up an aggregate 2.81 ERA with a 52/24 K/BB ratio in 48 innings. That included a 0.38 ERA in 23 2/3 innings after the Jays acquired him from the Mariners.
Benoit suffered a torn calf muscle during a benches-clearing brawl with the Yankees near the end of the regular season. He’s expected to be healthy for spring training.
The Phillies have now added three relievers this offseason with Benoit, Pat Neshek, and David Rollins.
ESPN’s Pedro Gomez provides a previously unreported detail of the new collective bargaining agreement, agreed to by the owners and the players’ union last week. Players’ meal money for road games is being reduced from $105 to $30 per day. Teams are providing pre- and post-game meals in the visitors’ clubhouse to offset some of the decrease in meal money.
Gomez quotes an unnamed player who said, “I doubt many guys know about the money going down, nor would they have agreed to it.” All of the players Gomez contacted said they were unaware of and unhappy about the change.
Clubhouse attendants are certainly unhappy about this change, too. As Gomez notes, the attendants previously provided food for visiting teams which earned them tips from the players.
EDIT: It’s worth clarifying that chefs are required in clubhouses now as part of the new CBA, so it’s not a complete loss for the players.