After 162 regular season games, the Texas Rangers and the Tampa Bay Rays shared identical 91-71 records. So the second American League wild card spot came down to a one-game tiebreaker, held Monday night in Arlington, Texas.

Rays pitching coach Jim Hickey joined SiriusXM’s MLB Network Radio before the game and noted the “win and you’re in” atmosphere around the clubhouse, saying, “It’s all hands on deck, it’s DEFCON 5 today because we all know what it means: It is game seven”.

The Game 163 match-up featured Rays ace David Price facing off against the Rangers’ Martin Perez. Earlier this season, Price missed six weeks with a strained triceps, but he didn’t skip a beat Monday night pitching a complete game, giving up two runs on seven hits en route to a 5-2 win.

With the 2012 Cy Young award winner on the mound, the Rays had all the confidence in Price. Skeptics, however, pointed to his combined 6.62 ERA in 11 career starts against the Rangers (including the postseason). And at Rangers Ballpark, Price held a 10.26 ERA over four starts.

Hickey talked about Price’s rough history against the Rangers:

You can’t help but think about it because you hear it everywhere, on the radio and on television … but we’re certainly aware of it. He has had some success against this club as well. I would call him a little bit of a different pitcher right now than he was even a year ago … and I think it might play a little bit better for him versus this lineup.

So why did Hickey think this would be a different start for Price?

(The Rangers) do have a lot of right-handed hitters, a lot of guys that can hit the ball out of the ballpark, they do like the fastball. That being said, if David is locating his fastball like he has been … I think you’re going to see a little bit more productivity out of his fastball.

That pregame prediction came true as his command only got better over the nine innings. Price also stuck to what was working, throwing 67 fastballs for strikes out of 118 total pitches to notch the victory.

The Rays next opponent will be the Indians in the AL Wild Card game on Wednesday in Cleveland.

MLB Network Radio will have comprehensive coverage of the postseason through the last out of the World Series on Sirius channel 209 and XM channel 89.

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