Rays, Meadows hope to keep bashing in Texas
(AP) -- The Tampa Bay Rays held their ground in the playoff chase with a 5-3, 11-inning road win over the Texas Rangers on Tuesday night, and it wasn't surprising that Austin Meadows was right in the middle of the heroics.
The teams will play the second contest of a three-game series in Arlington, Texas, on Wednesday night.
Meadows ripped a two-run, eighth-inning homer Tuesday to rally the Rays from a 3-1 deficit, but that kind of production has been typical for the Atlanta native in 2019.
Meadows was named the American League's Player of the Week for the second time after last week's performance in which he was 12-for-23 (.522) with four home runs and eight RBIs.
He became the second position player in Rays history to be named Player of the Week more than once in a season, joining third baseman Evan Longoria.
"It's awesome," Meadows, 24, said of the award. "(Monday) we were hanging at the pool all day -- it was an off day -- and I looked at my phone, and my phone was blowing up. So that's kind of the first time I've found out (that way) that I was Player of the Week.
"It's a special honor. To be able to do it this time of year is pretty cool."
Tampa Bay (87-59) has needed Meadows' contributions in the season's final push for the postseason.
The latest win allowed the Rays to hold their lead over the two clubs chasing them for the AL's top wild-card spot, the Athletics and Indians, who were both victorious. Oakland is 1 1/2 games behind Tampa Bay, with Cleveland a half-game behind the A's.
During his nine-game hitting streak, Meadows is batting .516 (16-for-31) with five homers and 11 RBIs.
Tuesday night's long ball in Arlington, his 29th, gave him the second-highest season total in Tampa Bay history by a player before he turned 25. Longoria crushed 33 in 2009 at the age of 23.
In injury news, the Rays are concerned with the repeated ailments experienced by center fielder Kevin Kiermaier.
Kiermaier, a quintessential hustling player who goes all out and is often seen banging into outfield walls, is out with a nagging neck injury. He hasn't played since leaving Sunday's game in the fifth inning.
Rays outfielder Avisail Garcia left the Tuesday game due to right hip tightness. On the plus side, Tampa Bay ace Blake Snell (left elbow surgery) is close to returning to the majors but first will pitch for Triple-A Durham in a playoff game on Thursday.
As for the Rangers (72-74), manager Chris Woodward didn't enjoy watching reliever Rafael Montero yield Meadows' blast to blow the lead.
In the 11th inning, reliever Emmanuel Clase and second baseman Rougned Odor committed two-out throwing errors on the same play, leading to a pair of unearned runs.
"It's pretty frustrating," Woodward admitted. "Montero has been one of our best pitchers. But we did nothing at the end of the game to win it. It's unfortunate, but we put ourselves in position to win the game."
Texas right-hander Ariel Jurado (7-10, 5.40 ERA) is scheduled to start Wednesday against a Tampa Bay opener, right-hander Andrew Kittredge, (1-0, 4.17).
Jurado is 1-4 with a 6.75 ERA in his past seven games (five starts). Most recently, he gave up five runs in four innings in a relief outing against the New York Yankees on Sept. 3. Jurado will be opposing Tampa Bay for the first time in his career.
Kittredge threw two innings of shutout relief against the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday. He has made two career appearances against Texas, one in 2017, one in 2018, pitching a total of 1 1/3 scoreless innings.
--Field Level Media
Updated September 11, 2019