The Texas Rangers are going back to the American League Championship Series for a second consecutive season.
Adrian Beltre belted three homers, Matt Harrison handed a lead over to the bullpen and the Rangers held on for a 4-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 4 of the ALDS on Tuesday afternoon at Tropicana Field. The Rangers won the best-of-five series, 3-1.
Texas now awaits its fate in the next round against either the Detroit Tigers or New York Yankees. If it’s the Tigers, the Rangers would open Game 1 on Saturday at Rangers Ballpark. If it’s the Yankees, the Rangers would travel to Yankee Stadium for Game 1 on Saturday.
Beltre made sure the Rangers would at least advance, going deep three times – the seventh time a player has hit three homers in a playoff game in history, first time in the ALDS.
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After Ian Kinsler led off the game with a solo shot in the first off Rays starter Jeremy Hellickson, Beltre made it 2-0 when he sent one over the left-field fence to start the second.
Tampa Bay pulled to within 2-1 with a run in the bottom half of the second. Sean Rodriguez drew a one-out walk, and scored from first on a double to right-center by Matt Joyce.
Rodriguez bulldogged Rangers catcher Mike Napoli on a play at the plate to pry the ball loose. Napoli got up slowly, but stayed in the game.
Each team scored single runs in the fourth.
Beltre drilled an opposite field shot to right for a 3-1 lead, and the Rays scored on an RBI single by Casey Kotchman.
Beltre had one more power stroke in him, though. He took Rays Game 1 starter Matt Moore, who relieved Hellickson in the fifth, deep to left in the seventh, giving the Rangers a 4-2 lead. Beltre joins Babe Ruth (who did it twice), Bob Robertson, Reggie Jackson, George Brett and Adam Kennedy as the only other players in postseason history to have three homers in a game.
Harrison finished his postseason debut for the Rangers allowing two runs on five hits with two walks and nine strikeouts over five innings. More importantly, he gave the Rangers’ bullpen a lead, and they were able to piece it together the final four innings.
Derek Holland worked 1 1/3 scoreless innings, and Mike Adams got the final two outs of the seventh. Then, Alexi Ogando worked a perfect eighth. Neftali Feliz gave up one run on an RBI single by Casey Kotchman in the ninth, but got the celebration started when he induced a fielder's chioce groundout by Desmond Jennings to end the game.