ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Wil Myers’ sense of relief was easy to see.
The Tampa Bay right fielder was let off the hook for a defensive lapse Wednesday night that put the Texas Rangers ahead in the 11th inning of a matchup between AL wild-card leaders when the Rays rallied for a 4-3 victory in the 12th.
After the Rays tied it in the bottom of the 11th, the Rookie of the Year candidate could be seen saying “Thank God,” in the dugout.
With two outs in the 11th, Myers lackadaisically approached Adrian Beltre’s single to right field with Elvis Andrus on first base. The speedy Rangers shortstop got a great jump off first and scored on the play to put Texas up 3-2.
“I should have been more aware of the situation that was going on and who was running, and charge the ball with more aggressiveness,” Myers said. “It’s one of those things that you learn from and you don’t let it happen again. If I’m in that situation again I’ve got to know who’s running.”
Myers got a reprieve in the bottom of the 11th when David DeJesus tied it 3-all with a two-out RBI single off Rangers closer Joe Nathan. Desmond Jennings then won it for the Rays in the 12th on a run-scoring single.
In the crowded six-team field for two AL wild-card spots, the Rays held the top position entering Thursday thanks to the extra-inning win. If things would have turned out differently Wednesday and Tampa Bay ended up missing the postseason, Myers’ play could have been seen as a defining moment.
“So, that’s a lesson learned … gratefully that it was learned during a win and not a loss,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “But that’s something I would want to believe he’ll never do again.”
“That truly is, I’m not one that normally talks about rookie mistakes because anybody can make them, but that’s a play right there if you know the league and you know the player, that you know you’ve to get in to it quickly and get it back in quickly, period,” Maddon added. “Had he gotten to the ball quicker and thrown it in quicker, there’s no way Andrus could have scored on that play.”
The outcome, though, helped Myers get over his mistake.
“Once they scored, I was happy, obviously, that we were able to tie it back up, and I was more relieved that we won,” Myers said. “I felt bad about what had happened, especially in this game that means so much. That I could let something like that happen.”