ARLINGTON, Texas — When Ben Zobrist caught a flyball in deep right field, Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon was more concerned about the runner who was going to third base.
Zobrist instead made a perfect throw to home plate for a double play to end the Texas eighth inning, and the Rays held on for a 2-0 victory Wednesday, winning the finale of what had been a difficult three-game series in Texas.
“Especially in a big situation, where we’re trying to prevent runs, especially going into the ninth, it felt great,” Zobrist said. “It was exciting, and warmed me up just a little bit.”
Matt Moore (2-0) combined with four relievers on a five-hitter and the Rays got their only runs on a fielder’s choice grounder by Zobrist and a sacrifice fly by Evan Longoria to win the coldest day game ever at Rangers Ballpark.
It was only 39 degrees when the game started after a rain delay of 1 hour, 29 minutes. That was 40 degrees colder than Tuesday night.
Texas had runners at second and third with one out in the eighth when pinch-hitter Leonys Martin hit the fly to right. Adrian Beltre tagged up from third base, and David Murphy was ready to advance from second.
“I was really surprised on Zo’s throw. I did not think he had a shot, I thought it was too deep,” Maddon said. “But he made an absolutely perfect throw and (catcher Jose Lobaton) did a nice job on the other end.”
Texas, which had won six of seven since its season-opening loss at Houston, also appeared to have a run in the sixth. Mitch Moreland, the third batter after Moore left the game, beat out an inning-ending double-play grounder.
Moreland had already been signaled safe and Nelson Cruz had crossed home plate when interference was called against Jeff Baker at second. Baker slid away from the bag and into the path of shortstop Yunel Escobar, who double-clutched before making the relay throw.
“It was obvious (Baker) made no intent to get to the bag,” said Rangers manager Ron Washington, who did go out to discuss the call with second base umpire Marty Foster. “He may have done that, but that had no effect on why (Escobar) double- or triple-clutched on the throw.”
That inning-ending play was much different than the game-ending strike in Monday night’s series opener that Texas won 5-4. That game ended with Zobrist batting when Foster was behind home plate and called strike three on a full-count curveball low and outside — a call the ump later admitted he got wrong.