Longoria homers, Davis cruises as Rays lead Game 4

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This series might be headed back to The Trop.

The Rays, pummeled by the Rangers in Games 1 and 2 back in Tampa, are now leading Texas 5-2 in the seventh inning of Sunday’s ALDS Game 4 in Arlington.  Rays rookie Wade Davis fanned seven batters and allowed just two runs, looking mature in situations that required serious damage control.  Evan Longoria is 2-for-3 with a homer and two RBI.  Carlos Pena has an RBI and two runs scored.

The Rangers didn’t get the start they were hoping for out of youngster Tommy Hunter, who was pulled from the game after allowing three runs and six hits over four innings of work.  Nelson Cruz homered in the bottom of the sixth, but it was a solo shot.  A three-run deficit won’t be easy to overcome.

If the Rays hang on, they’ll tie the five-game series at 2-2.  Look for a battle of left-handed aces in Game 5 with Cliff Lee going for the Rangers and David Price taking the home-field mound at Tropicana Field.

In the meantime, the Yankees will continue to rest their banged-up players.  They swept the Twins on their own side of the ALDS and the ALCS doesn’t kick off until Friday night.

Diamondbacks, T.J. McFarland avoid arbitration

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Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports that the Diamondbacks and reliever T.J. McFarland have avoided arbitration, agreeing on a $1.45 million salary for the 2019 season. McFarland, in his third of four years of arbitration eligibility, filed for $1.675 million while the Diamondbacks countered at $1.275 million. McFarland ended up settling for just under the midpoint of those two figures.

McFarland, 29, was terrific out of the bullpen for the D-Backs last season, finishing with a 2.00 ERA and a 42/22 K/BB ratio in 72 innings. While the lefty may not miss a lot of bats, he does induce quite a few grounders. His 67.9 percent ground ball rate last season was the third highest among relievers with at least 50 innings, trailing only Brad Ziegler (71.1%) and Scott Alexander (70.6%).

McFarland was dominant against left-handed hitters, limiting them to a .388 OPS last season, but the D-Backs deployed him nearly twice as often against right-handed hitters, who posted an aggregate .764 OPS against him. It will be interesting to see if the club decides to use him more as a platoon reliever in 2019.