ARLINGTON -- Despite already clinching the American League West, it was echoed throughout the Rangers clubhouse that their regular-season mission would not be complete until they secured home-field advantage throughout the postseason.They secured it, for the first time in club history, on Friday night with a 3-1 victory over the
ARLINGTON -- Despite already clinching the American League West, it was echoed throughout the Rangers clubhouse that their regular-season mission would not be complete until they secured home-field advantage throughout the postseason.
They secured it, for the first time in club history, on Friday night with a 3-1 victory over the Rays at Globe Life Park behind a stellar pitching performance from Yu Darvish. Due to the AL winning the All-Star Game, the Rangers are assured home-field advantage for the entirety of their postseason run. The Rangers and Red Sox could still end with the same record, but the Rangers hold the tiebreaker over them with a better intra-divisional record.
"It's great for us and great for the fans, we've played really good at home this year," said Rougned Odor, who hit a solo home run in the sixth. "So it's going to be nice to start [and end] the series at home. We can't take it easy now. We just have to keep doing what we're doing and keep playing how we play."
Darvish, who was making his 100th career start, struck out a season-high 12 batters over six innings of work on his way to a win. His only blemish was an RBI double from Rays third baseman Evan Longoria in the sixth. Longoria's double was just the third hit -- and only extra-base hit -- Darvish allowed.
"Just explosive stuff tonight," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said of Darvish. "It's great to see from a guy who's been on an upward trend. I think there's still another step, another gear from him. [But] very impressive night for Yu."
Odor's homer, along with another solo home run from Carlos Beltrán, helped Darvish's performance stand up. Beltran's came first, when he lined his 29th homer of the year over the right-field fence in the third. The homer left his bat at 109.6 mph, per Statcast™, which was his hardest homer of the year. Odor followed with his solo shot in the sixth.
Both home runs came off Rays starter Matt Andriese, who gave up three runs on seven hits over 5 1/3 innings to take the loss. Andriese came into this start having allowed two runs or fewer in three straight. He had allowed just two homers in his four prior September starts.
"Tough matchup today," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "Darvish really had it going. Racked up a bunch of punchouts, made it difficult basically our entire lineup. He had the fastball going. Pretty unique, a guy that can throw 92, 93, then dialing it up to 97, 98 when he wants to."
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MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Stink bomb: Odor led off the sixth with his 33rd home run of the season, which traveled a Statcast-projected 394 feet into the right-field seats. It was Odor's 32nd homer of the season at second base, trailing only Alfonso Soriano -- who hit 35 at the position in 2005 -- for the most in Rangers history as a second baseman. Odor also broke a tie with Adrián Beltré for the team lead, as he looks to become just the second second baseman in club history to lead the team in home runs (Ian Kinsler, 2011).
Chasing 100: Longoria's RBI double in the sixth -- the 300th of his career -- cut the Rangers' lead to 2-1 and gave the veteran slugger his 97th RBI of the season, putting him in reach of a third career 100-RBI season. Longoria's single-season high for RBIs came in 2009 when he had 113. The 2010 season marked the last time he reached the mark, with 104. Longoria added a double in the eighth, giving him 40 for the season. His two hits gave him 171 for the season, a career high.
"For the most part, I've felt as comfortable as I've ever felt this year at the plate, so I think that helps," Longoria said. "It lends itself to some more hits. Just having some prolonged stretches where I've felt really good at the plate. Being able to turn a 1-for-4 into a 2-for-4, and those things add up."
Bullpen sets record: The Rangers bullpen picked up right where Darvish left off, throwing three scoreless innings to secure the victory. Right-hander Tony Barnette picked up the first two outs in the sixth and lefty Jake Diekman finished the inning. Matt Bush then fired a scoreless eighth, to give the team's bullpen 28 2/3 scoreless innings, breaking the club record set back in 2008. Sam Dyson then came on in the ninth and notched his 38th save of the year, third-most in the AL.
"Guys just want to do their job, and do it well," Barnette said. "When everybody shows up, does their job and works hard, it's easy to get along with one another."
Finishing strong: Even though Andriese took the loss, the right-hander finished the season strong. The three runs were the most he's surrendered in his last four starts, after allowing two runs or fewer in the three prior starts. Andriese's control was particularly sharp down the stretch; he allowed no more than one walk in his final seven starts.
"We're all really pleased with how Matt finished the season and what he brought to us this year," Cash said. "No secret, he in was in the rotation, we took him out of the rotation, put him back in. I thought he handled those things pretty well. We've got big hopes for Matt Andriese. We know he can really be a big anchor in our staff."
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"It would be outstanding to see that. ... The 100-RBI mark, I'd love to see him get it." -- Cash, on Longoria's pursuit of another 100-RBI season
"These guys still need to stay sharp. It's not like you can unplug and re-plug. The lineup may look a little different tomorrow. There are some guys on the bench who we'd like to get at-bats, who haven't been getting consistent at-bats. We'll evaluate and see where we're at." -- Banister, on strategy for final two regular-season games
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
• Corey Dickerson hit in the leadoff spot for the third time this season and had an 11-pitch at-bat, resulting in a single to left. The 11-pitch at-bat was the longest by a Rays' hitter to lead off a game since Carl Crawford had an 11-pitch at-bat against Rick Helling of the Orioles in Baltimore on April 21, 2003.
• Darvish made Brad Miller his 10th strikeout victim in the sixth to give him 28 career starts of 10 or more strikeouts. That is the second-most in Rangers history to Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan (34). That also trails just Dwight Gooden (31) for the most through 100 starts.
Rays:Jake Odorizzi (9-6, 3.77) makes his 33rd and final start of 2016 on Saturday (8:05 p.m. ET). He's been on a roll in the second half, posting a 6-1 with a 2.81 ERA in 13 starts since the All-Star break. In four career starts against the Rangers, the right-hander is 3-0 with a 1.40 ERA.
Rangers:Colby Lewis (6-4, 3.93 ERA) will make his final start of the season at 7:05 p.m. CT on Saturday at Globe Life Park. Lewis, who's looking to end a four-game losing streak, is 0-3 with a 9.75 ERA in three starts since returning from the 60-day disabled list.
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Ryan Posner is a reporter for MLB.com based in Texas and covered the Rangers on Friday.
Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.