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Scenes from Tropicana Field during Game 4 or Tampa Bay Rays-Texas Rangers series

Fast starters

. Rangers LH starter Matt Harrison became one of two pitchers in postseason history to record at least nine strikeouts in five innings or less. He joins Steve Blass of the 1971 Pirates. His nine strikeouts tied a career best, and it was his first postseason win, thanks to four relievers. RH closer Neftali Feliz gave up one run in the ninth but got his third save of the series. Harrison was staked to a 1-0 lead on a leadoff homer by 2B Ian Kinsler. The Rangers never trailed after that. Kinsler said he got a good read on Rays RH starter Jeremy Hellickson on the first pitch. "He threw me a really good fastball down and away on the first pitch of the game," Kinsler said. "Honestly, I was just looking for it again. He made a mistake with the changeup, and I was able to get some good wood on it."

Moore is good

. Rays fans have heard so much about LHP Matt Moore the past couple of months, then he was sensational in Game 1 of this series, pitching seven scoreless innings. After everything, it's a little hard to believe that he made his Tropicana Field debut Tuesday. Moore took over for RH starter Jeremy Hellickson in the fifth and pitched three innings, allowing one hit — a solo home run to 3B Adrian Beltre.

"I missed pretty bad there to Beltre," said Moore, who added it was a meatball fastball. "That kind of took us out of it a bit."

Still, Moore showed in the past few weeks that he is ready to make an impact at the major-league level.

"Right now, it's a little hard to think about stuff like that," Moore said.

Rangers manager Ron Washington said, "Tampa just keeps stacking pitching. This kid had a tremendous arm, a lot of life in it."

There's an old saying in sports about leaving everything on the field. Rays SS Sean Rodriguez did just that Tuesday. Rodriguez went 1-for-2 with two walks and scored all three Rays runs. The most exciting of those runs came when he bowled over Rangers C Mike Napoli in a violent play in the second inning. Rodriguez scored from first on a double by RF Matt Joyce when he jarred the ball loose from Napoli, who blocked the plate but didn't have quite enough time to secure the relay. • "Nap is a big boy, and I love him to death," Rodriguez said. "He's doing this job, which is to try to block the plate and hold on to the ball. And I'm just doing my job trying to get in there. That was one tough baseball play right there." • "I would've done the same thing," Napoli said. " … That's the right way to play the game." • Joyce called it a typical Rays play, and manager Joe Maddon called it a typical Rodriguez play. • "Sean Rodriguez is a baseball player," Maddon said. "He is a throwback in every sense of the word. He could have played in any decade, any era." • Maddon called it a "beautiful collision." • "Nobody got hurt," Maddon said, "and the Rays scored a run."

. Rays rookie RHP Jeremy Hellickson made his first postseason start Tuesday, and it was a mixed bag. He lasted four innings and gave up four hits, three of which were homers. He allowed a leadoff homer to 2B Ian Kinsler then two to 3B Adrian Beltre, who also homered off LHP Matt Moore. As a result, Hellickson took the loss.

"I just wanted to keep them off the board, and I didn't do that," Hellickson said. "I made good pitches, just not good enough."

Beltre's second homer gave the Rangers a 3-1 lead in the fourth, essentially knocking Hellickson from the game. He gave way to Moore to start the fifth.

"(Beltre) is a good hitter," Hellickson said. "You just have to make better pitches there."

. Rangers 3B Adrian Beltre had a feeling in batting practice that Tuesday was going to be a good day. In the first three games of the ALDS, he said, his swing was a little off. But during Game 4's batting practice, the balls were flying out of Tropicana Field. And they didn't stop flying once the game started. Beltre hit three solo home runs, two against Rays RH starter Jeremy Hellickson and one against LH reliever Matt Moore, to carry the Rangers to the series win. He became the seventh player in postseason history to hit three homers in one game, the last being Adam Kennedy in the 2002 ALCS against the Twins. He is the first to hit three home runs in an ALDS game.

"For some reason, I haven't felt right in batting practice the last three days," Beltre said. "I wasn't hitting the ball like I wanted to. (Tuesday) I felt comfortable again." Beltre didn't even have an extra-base hit in seven previous postseason games, but he shattered that streak. He had 32 homers in the regular season. Rangers manager Ron Washington was waiting for the meat of his lineup to get going, and Game 4 was a good time to do it. "Amazing," Washington said. "We've been waiting for the middle of our lineup to get started, and (Tuesday) he stepped up and put us on his back. He's been big for us all year. (Tuesday) he was bigger than big." Beltre said Tuesday marked one of the best days he has had in his 14 year big-league career. "Besides my first hit in the big leagues, this is right up there," he said. "My team needed every bit of it to win (Tuesday). That really means something."

Staying dry

. The Rangers' locker room was bedlam, with beer and champagne flying on anyone who got in the way. One player kept away from the celebration was OF Josh Hamilton. Just like last season when Texas clinched at Tropicana Field, Hamilton was in a dining room, sheltered from the alcohol. Hamilton had a well-publicized battle with drugs and alcohol since back surgery in 2001.

. When the Rays drafted OF Josh Hamilton first overall in 1999, fans hoped he'd be patrolling Tropicana Field's outfield, not knocking the team out of the playoffs two straight years. But Hamilton had his career derailed because of drug and alcohol issues before battling his way back and becoming an MVP with the Rangers. He said the "newness" and "weird" feeling of coming back to the Trop is over with, but he acknowledged he couldn't help but think about his Tampa Bay past while in the outfield in Monday's game, when he had a key two-run single. Hamilton said he "made some amends" with some Rays trainers and staff. "They put a lot of time and effort into me, so just made an apology," Hamilton said. "Thinking about it for the fans aspect of it (Monday), they were all expecting to see me with the Rays in Tropicana, like you said, in the outfield. But it doesn't work out that way all the time. So you know what? Would I have liked to have done it? Absolutely. Did it happen? No. But I just have to do what I can with the team I am with now."

Scenes from Tropicana Field during Game 4 or Tampa Bay Rays-Texas Rangers series 10/04/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, October 4, 2011 11:03pm]
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