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Tampa Bay Rays news and notes: David Price's Astro gets a guard dog; pitcher Matt Moore draws a crowd; that's some expensive Frosty for Rangers pitcher

American League Division Series | Game 3, 5:07 Monday, St. Petersburg TV/radio: TBS; 620-AM, 1040-AM

Astro gets a guard dog

. Rays LHP David Price had a replacement for the stolen replica of his dog, Astro, back on the dugout Saturday, and this time with protection. 3B Evan Longoria got a plastic dog — considerably larger than Astro — at a shop and gave it to Price so Astro would have protection. "It's his bodyguard," Longoria said. Price dubbed the dog The Beast. "Astro will be watching the game, and The Beast will be watching Astro's back," Price said. The original Astro — the miniature version that was part of the giveaway item to fans — was stolen by a fan during Friday's game. Rookie LHP Matt Moore got an assist in the matter because he had the extra Astro in his backpack. "Matt Moore saved the day again," Price said.

Murphy's Law

. As tough as the fourth inning was for RHP James Shields, with the Rangers' five-run rally including two wild pitches and two hit batters, it also included a controversial call. With two on, one out and the score 3-3, Shields appeared to get LF David Murphy out. Murphy, above, hit the ball, which dribbled in front of C Kelly Shoppach, who threw to first base. But home-plate umpire Kerwin Danley ruled the ball hit Murphy's bat on the backswing, making it foul. Murphy then reached base after he swung and missed at a third strike and the ball got away from Shoppach for a wild pitch. The Rangers scored two more runs. "It was a ground ball," Shoppach said. "It just got messed up. … Virtually any team in the American League, you give them an extra out, they're going to make you pay." Said Shields: "I thought that was a fair ball right there in front of home plate. I think that was a crucial call right there, but that's just the way it goes."

Feeling for Francona

. Rays DH Johnny Damon, with the Red Sox from 2002 to 2005, said it was a "sad day" Friday when news broke that manager Terry Francona would not be back after eight seasons — and two championships — with Boston. But Damon feels Francona has more to give, saying "he can manage any team or do anything in baseball he wants, and I think he would be successful. To me, Terry Francona is a Hall of Fame manager," Damon said.

"What he was able to do in Boston and deal with the pressure day-in-and-day-out scenario and even the offseasons. I mean, playing in Boston is definitely, I feel, the toughest place to play, just because the fans are passionate. And I wish Terry Francona the best, and I know if he ever wants a job in baseball, I don't think any team should stand pat."

Double trouble

. It appeared like the Rangers were ready to start a rally in the first when Rays 2B Ben Zobrist thwarted it with a stellar double play. With leadoff hitter 2B Ian Kinsler on first after a single, Texas tried a hit-and-run, with SS Elvis Andrus hitting a soft liner toward rightfield. But Zobrist quickly reacted, racing to his left before making a leaping catch and then doubling Kinsler off first. Instead of having runners on first and third with no outs for OF Josh Hamilton, the bases were empty. Five pitches later, RHP James Shields was out of the inning.

Does that include a Frosty?

. According to one of his teammates, Rangers LHP Derek Holland, left, who started against the Rays in Game 2, spends $30 at Wendy's every night before he pitches.

"I don't have any crazy superstitions," Rangers reliever Darren O'Day told the Dallas Morning News. "Holland has a pretty good one. When I used to live with Holland a couple of years ago, every night, the night before his start, we have to go to Wendy's. The first time was an eye-opening experience because we went up to Wendy's … his bill comes to $30. I wasn't paying attention to what he ordered, the bill comes to $30, and I was like, 'Are we bringing home food for somebody else?'

"He said, 'No, it's all for me.' … That's his pregame routine. He's a young buck. He can still do that. If I did that, I wouldn't be able to move for two days."

More on Moore

Rays rookie LHP Matt Moore found himself surrounded by autograph seekers by the visitor's dugout after batting practice Saturday afternoon, having made quite an impression in his seven shutout innings in Friday's Game 1 victory. Rangers manager Ron Washington, who called Moore "special," said what makes the 22-year-old stand out is his poise. He pointed out how in the third time through the Rangers lineup, Moore used his secondary pitches. "He did what a veteran would do. A veteran, once he gets a lead, he knows how to take it to the house. Well, that kid, got him a three-run lead, and he started mixing and pitching and showed us he wasn't just a thrower." • Said Rays LHP David Price: "Unreal. Wow. He didn't even blink. He stepped up for us in the biggest game of his career, biggest game for the Rays this year. It's pretty special. He can build off this day for a long time. Hopefully he continues to get better. If he does, watch out."

Tampa Bay Rays news and notes: David Price's Astro gets a guard dog; pitcher Matt Moore draws a crowd; that's some expensive Frosty for Rangers pitcher 10/01/11 [Last modified: Saturday, October 1, 2011 11:54pm]
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