Montgomery sparkles, Rangers beat sloppy Rays 4-0 in AL Wild Card Series opener

Texas Rangers starting pitcher Jordan Montgomery throws against the Tampa Bay Rays during the first inning of Game 1 in an AL wild-card baseball playoff series game, Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2023, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)


AP Sports Writer

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. Jordan Montgomery scattered six hits over seven innings, helping the Texas Rangers beat the sloppy Tampa Bay Rays 4-0 Tuesday in their AL Wild Card Series opener.

Corey Seager and Josh Jung drove in runs and the Rangers benefitted from four errors by the Rays, who also fizzled offensively before a crowd of just 19,704 — roughly 5,300 below listed capacity — at Tropicana Field.

Texas moved within a victory of an AL Division Series matchup against Baltimore.

Tampa Bay, wearing throwback Devil Rays jerseys in the style of 1998-2000, lost its sixth straight postseason game since winning its 2021 Division Series opener against Boston. The Rays have reached the postseason for the fifth straight season but have one run in their last three playoff defeats, hitting .133.

Montgomery, a 30-year-old left-hander acquired from St. Louis at the trade deadline, retired 14 of his last 16 batters. He fanned pinch hitter Junior Caminero, Tampa Bay’s top minor league prospect, to end his outing with five strikeouts and no walks.

Aroldis Chapman pitched a perfect eighth and José Leclerc worked around a walk in the ninth to finish a six-hitter, the Rangers’ first postseason shutout since the 2011 World Series.

Tyler Glasnow (0-1) yielded a sacrifice fly to Jung in the second inning, and the right-hander’s wild pitch allowed Texas to score its second run after the Rangers loaded the bases with no outs in the fifth.

Texas, 1 for 6 with runners in scoring position while stranding nine baserunners through five innings, opened a 4-0 lead in the sixth with additional help from the normally sure-handed Rays, who committed four errors — Tampa Bay’s most in a postseason game since 2008.

Glasnow walked the first two batters in the sixth and Seager greeted Chris Devenski with a run-scoring single. A second run scored on the play when centerfielder Jose Siri threw wildly past third base.

Montgomery, who’s also seen postseason action with the New York Yankees and the Cardinals, was 2-0 with a 0.67 ERA over his final four starts.

Glasnow allowed four runs and six hits in five-plus innings with eight strikeouts and five walks.


The mother of Tampa Bay’s Randy Arozarena joined her son on the field to throw a ceremonial first pitch before the game.

Sandra Gonzalez made the trip to Tropicana Field from Mexico to watch Arozarena play in person for the first time as a major leaguer. She only recently obtained a visa and arrived in Florida on Monday.

Gonzalez played catch with the All-Star outfielder near the home dugout before taking the mound and tossing a strike to Arozarena, who was squatting in a catcher’s position behind the plate.

The Rays-Rangers series is a family affair in more ways than one, with brothers Josh Lowe of Tampa Bay and Nathaniel Lowe of Texas facing off in October for the first time. Their mother, Wendy, was unable to attend because she is battling cancer and undergoing chemotherapy.

“It hurts her that she’s not going to be here today. She’s entering her third week of chemo and radiation, and she’s got brain cancer, so yeah, it’s a lot to go through,” Nathaniel said before the game.

“It’s a pretty heavy toll,” the Texas first baseman added. “I know Josh has done a pretty good job of putting it aside and compartmentalizing it and performing. But it’s something that we’re all learning to deal with and go forward with.”


Texas right-hander Nathan Eovaldi (12-5, 3.63 ERA) starts Wednesday, and the Rays will counter with AL wins co-leader Zach Eflin (16-8).