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Former Ranger Joaquin Benoit unfazed by hostile reception, earns win

ARLINGTON, Texas — Joaquin Benoit didn't really mind the boos he heard when introduced before Saturday's game.

It was something of a curious reaction by the Rangers Ballpark crowd since he had spent 14 years in the Texas organization and left only because he was no longer wanted as he recovered from shoulder surgery, but he took it well.

"Normally when you come back to where you used to play some fans are going to cheer, but you never hear that because there's more boos," he said. "But it's all right, I understand. I understand the fans. In my position, I've been through a lot. They're going to boo, that's fine, I don't mind."

Besides, by the end of the game he gave them a legitimate reason to be upset. His spotless 12/3 innings of work over the seventh and eighth innings helped the Rays keep the Rangers from clinching their first postseason series, and Benoit ended up with the win as a souvenir of his first postseason appearance.

"In front of the old fans and to get a win is great in a playoff game," Benoit said.

The Rays took a low-risk gamble on Benoit when the Rangers let him go, and it paid off tremendously as he led all AL relievers with a 1.34 ERA, and his average of 6.12 baserunners per nine innings was the third best in history.

So he wasn't really disappointed the Rangers didn't keep him.

"I was a Ranger for 14 years, and I guess it was time to move on," he said. "It worked out good for me and for the Rangers."

MEETING TIME: Manager Joe Maddon was glad 1B Carlos Peña called a team meeting Friday, because Maddon believes peer-to-peer sessions are much more valuable than anything he could do. "There's nothing I can say that can make us play better," Maddon said.

What Maddon did do was make a lap of the field during Friday's workout, chatting with each player about something, such as asking RHP Jeff Niemann about the differences between buying two vehicles he was considering buying (a Grand Cherokee and a Jeep Wrangler) and asking RHP Grant Balfour about his father David's battle with cancer.

ROOM SERVICE: The Rays had planned to stay over in Fort Worth on Saturday night even if they had lost. It was a logistical move, since they otherwise would have had to pack and check out of their hotel as if they were planning to go home, or go back to the hotel to pack after the game then head to the airport. But it also was a show of confidence that they planned on having a reason to stick around.

"I like the way we're doing that," Maddon said. "It does show confidence, and I just think it's the right way to do it."

MISCELLANY: B.J. Upton's 17 postseason RBIs are the most in franchise history. … The crowd of 51,746 was the largest in stadium history. … The Rangers were seeking their first home playoff win. … First-pitch temperature was 84. … Maddon was booed fairly heavily during pregame introductions. He later brought out the lineup card as he did for Game 1. … Country star Charley Pride sang the national anthem; the grandson of former Rangers manager Johnny Oates threw out the first pitch. … Former President George W. Bush was at the game.

Staff writer Joe Smith contributed to this report.

FAST FACTS

Game 5 tickets

Tickets for a possible Game 5 on Tuesday are on sale through rays­baseball.com. Any remaining tickets will be available Monday at all outlets, including Ticketmaster.

Former Ranger Joaquin Benoit unfazed by hostile reception, earns win 10/09/10 [Last modified: Sunday, October 10, 2010 12:05am]
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