Cliff Lee was masterful once again, making it the fourth time (of five matchups) that he struck out double digit Rays. He’s going to be the story of this game (hell, this series) and rightfully so. It’s hard to think Lee isn’t the best pitcher in the American League right now – and that’s not just because only two teams remain.
The other big plays involved baserunning. Let’s give them each a quick look:
1) Elvis Andrus scoring from second on a groundball to first base
Carlos Pena picked up the ball and flipped it to David Price. By the time Price heard Evan Longoria screaming to throw it home, Andrus was successfully across the plate. Rangers up 1-to-0 after three batters. The gain here is .041 despite an out being made on the play. Pretty nifty, considering Andrus also added .035 WPA on his single and .015 on a stolen base.
Cruz took the weirdest route of the three. After driving a ball to the deepest portion of the park (and admiring it so), Cruz had to hustle to get into second base after the ball hit off the wall. He then took off for third base on a steal attempt and got up to run home after Shoppach’s throw sailed into left field. Just like that, the Rangers regained the lead. Add .027 WPA on the double and .099 on the steal and further advance.
3) Vladimir Guerrero scoring from second base on a grounder to first base
Price received the ball at first again, but this time argued with the umpire on the safe call before turning and firing home. Guerrero slid in before Shoppach could apply the tag and the most unlikely of events put the Rangers up by two in the sixth. Add .057 on this play.
That’s .206 WPA off baserunning and .477 for Lee, or about 70% of the win.
Congrats to the Rangers, who now advance to the ALCS.