Game 1 of the ALDS between the Rays and the Rangers saw Carlos Pena go 0-3 with three strikeouts and a couple bobbles at first base. He didn't even get a chance to play in Game 2, as Joe Maddon opted to bench him against lefty starter C.J. Wilson.
Safe to say, few players were as down on themselves coming into Game 3 as Pena was. And safe to say, Pena isn't so down on himself anymore.
The Rays' first baseman - inserted back into the lineup against the right-handed Colby Lewis - was instrumental in Tampa's late comeback against the Ranger bullpen, a comeback which saw them score five runs in the final two innings to earn a 6-3 win and force a Game 4, to be played on Sunday.
Game 3 began slowly, and neither team got on the board until the bottom of the third, when Mitch Moreland doubled and later came around to score on an Elvis Andrus groundball to put the Rangers on top 1-0.
The score remained that way into the sixth, as Lewis was able to work out of a few jams. Once Lewis was removed, however, the Rays knotted things up, when B.J. Upton doubled to left off Derek Holland to plate Dan Johnson from second base.
The Rangers would get another lift in the bottom of the seventh. Ian Kinsler led off the frame against Matt Garza and tucked a fly ball inside the left field foul pole for a go-ahead solo home run. Kinsler would be the last batter Garza faced on the afternoon, and all of a sudden, the Rangers were six outs away from a sweep, the Rays six outs from elimination.
And that's when the big comeback began. Dan Johnson got things started against reliever Darren Oliver in the eighth with a one-out double. Pena then stepped in and, facing the lefty Oliver, ripped a single into right field to score Johnson and even things up. Three batters later, facing Rangers closer Neftali Feliz, John Jaso lined a two-out single into center field to score Pena and give the Rays their first lead of the series.
The Rays would then add to their lead in the ninth, when Carl Crawford hit a solo home run off Feliz and Pena later lifted a two-run dinger off Dustin Nippert. Pena's shot took the score to 6-2, and though Rafael Soriano would allow a home run to Nelson Cruz in the bottom of the ninth, that was the only damage, and a fly out by Julio Borbon sealed Tampa's 6-3 Game 3 victory.
The win went to Joaquin Benoit, who worked 1.2 perfect innings of relief. The loss went to Oliver, who was charged with two runs. Pena wound up 2-3 with a single, a home run, two walks, and three RBI.