ARLINGTON, Texas — When Tampa Bay finished its regular season at Texas three years ago, it was a 163rd game for the AL wild-card tiebreaker.
The Rays won that game in 2013, and won the wild-card game against Cleveland before falling to Boston in the AL Division Series.
This time, even with a 6-4 win in 10 innings Sunday at the AL West champion Rangers, the Rays finished their third consecutive losing season since that last playoff appearance.
“(Happy with) the fight, yeah, but not the performance. There’s a big difference between having fight and going out and performing and getting it done,” manager Kevin Cash said. “We’ve got to get better at that. We have every intention of that. We will. The effort level remained consistent and we’re happy with the overall effort level.”
Alexei Ramirez had four hits as Tampa Bay ended with back-to-back wins over the Rangers (95-67), who had already clinched home-field advantage throughout the postseason.
The Rays (68-94) finished with their worst record since going 66-96 in 2007, the year before going to their only World Series.
“Something we’ve talked about it so many times is just inconsistency,” said Evan Longoria, who finished with 36 homers and 98 RBIs. “But it was nice to finish with a win today. We gave up the lead late and came right back in the next inning and picked up a couple runs.”
Closer Alex Colome (2-4) allowed three consecutive singles in the ninth that allowed the Rangers to tie the game at 4 and force extra innings. It was only his third blown save in 40 chances this season.
The Rays then opened the 10th with three consecutive hits off Tanner Scheppers (1-1). Richie Shaffer led off with a single before going to third on Ramirez’s double and scoring on a wild pitch. Curt Casali then had an RBI double, his second RBI in the game.
Erasmo Ramirez, the seventh Rays pitcher and 14th in the game, worked a perfect 10th for his second save.
Knuckleball rookie reliever Eddie Gamboa worked two scoreless innings with four strikeouts for the Rays. He was in line for his first major league victory at age 31, and exactly a month after his major league debut, before the Rangers scored runs in the eighth and ninth inning after he was out of the game.
“I’m very hopeful but at the same time I know there’s a lot that I have to work on,” Gamboa said. “That’s why I’m so excited about the offseason to work on some stuff and come back stronger with more consistency. Again, just try to do the same as this year and eat up innings as best as I can.”
When Gamboa made his major league debut Sept. 2, he was the second-oldest player ever to do so for the Rays. The only older was 35-year-old Jim Morris in 1999, the lefty whose story was chronicled in the 2002 Walt Disney movie, “The Rookie.”
“There’s going to be a lot of conversations about the bullpen. There will be plenty of opportunities,” Cash said, when asked about Gamboa. “It’s a different look, to complement a hard-throwing guy behind him or in front of him. It’s an interesting concept that we’ll continue to look into.”
With six doubles in the finale, the Rays ended the season with 536 extra-base hits, breaking the previous club record of 532 set in 2009.
Rays: CF Kevin Kiermaier missed the finale with a bruised left calf after getting hit by a pitch in Saturday night’s game.