Where there's a tiebreaker, there's a controversial call.
That's not a saying, but it probably should be. There was Merkle's Boner, there was Holliday's Slide and, now, there's Martin's Trap. Or at least, there could have been Martin's Trap, but the Tampa Bay Rays weren't having it; instead of falling victim to a blown call, the Rays finished strong and put away the Texas Rangers to advance to the AL Wild Card game in Cleveland on Wednesday.
Rangers starter Martin Perez began to settle in and it seems Texas was gaining some momentum. Then, Longoria struck again.
The Rays' star third baseman hit an opposite-field double with one out and came around to score when David DeJesus, who entered the game as a pinch-hitter, laced a double of his own down the right field line:
It didn't quite have enough juice to make it over the left field wall, but Cruz's hit resulted in an RBI double, cutting into the Rays' deficit once again.
In the top half of the next inning, Tampa Bay threatened to extend its lead. After Wil Myers and Evan Longoria walked, the Rays had runners on first and second with two outs and Delmon Young headed to the plate. Young looped a ball into center field and Leonys Martin dove forward in an attempt to make the catch:
As you can see, Martin trapped the ball, but umpires declared it a catch, ending the Rays' threat and costing them an insurance run.
We've seen this before. Controversial call energizes crowd, home team feeds off energy. Rally ensues. "Or not," says David Price, who made a terrific defensive play to stifle the Rangers' comeback attempt:
Texas was unable to make the same types of game-changing plays, as evidenced by Tanner Scheppers' failure to notice Sam Fuld stealing third in the top of the ninth inning, coupled with an erroneous desperation throw:
Tampa Bay recaptured its three-run lead, and this time, Texas was unable to cut into it. The Rangers' season is over, and the Rays are a win over the Indians away from taking on the Boston Red Sox in the ALDS.