By FRED GOODALL
AP Sports Writer
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Adolis García and Evan Carter homered to back Nathan Eovaldi, and the Texas Rangers beat the punchless Tampa Bay Rays 7-1 Wednesday to finish a two-game AL Wild Card Series sweep.
Garcia and Carter, a 20-year-old rookie who became the second-youngest postseason player in franchise history, homered off 16-game winner Zach Eflin, who was unable to save Tampa Bay’s season.
Texas advanced to a Division Series at AL East champion Baltimore starting Saturday. The Rays’ scoreless streak reached 33 innings, one shy of the postseason record held by the 1966-74 Los Angeles Dodgers, before Curtis Mead’s RBI single in the seventh.
Texas won a postseason series for the first time since 2011, when the Rangers reached the World Series before losing to St. Louis.
Tampa Bay followed a stellar start with a fizzling finish. The Rays opened 13-0 to match the 1982 Atlanta Braves and 1987 Milwaukee Brewers, trailing only the 20-0 start by the 1884 St. Louis Maroons of the Union Association. The Rays led the AL East from opening day and then were overtaken by the Orioles in mid-July.
After gaining the AL’s second wild card, Tampa Bay lost its seventh straight postseason game. In getting swept in consecutive Wild Card Series, the Rays scored two runs over four games while hitting .161.
Eovaldi, beating the Rays for the third time this year, season, allowed six hits while striking out eight and walking none over 6 2/3 innings.
Garcia’s leadoff homer began a four-run fourth inning against loser Zach Eflin. Josh Jung had a RBI triple and Carter hit a two-run homer to right for the Rangers, 7-0 in postseason games at Tropicana Field.
Carter hit .306 with five homers and 12 RBIs over 23 games after making his major league debut on Sept. 8. He reached base in his first six postseason at-bats, doubling twice and drawing three walks.
The Rays finally got an out from the No. 9 hole when Colin Poche fanned Carter in the sixth inning. Marcus Semien and Corey Seager followed with run-scoring doubles.
Attendance for Game 2 was 20,198, another below-sellout crowd at Tropicana Field but up slightly from Tuesday’s 19,704. That was the lowest figure for a major league postseason game since the 1919 World Series, other than 2020 games played during the coronavirus pandemic.
SWITCHING IT UP
The Rays removed CF Jose Siri and inserting Josh Lowe into the cleanup spot. Manuel Margot shifted from right field to center, while Lowe played right .
Siri returned for Game 1 after being sidelined since Sept. 12 with a fractured right hand. He and went 0 for 3 and committed a throwing error that allowed a run.
Rangers: Begin the ALDS at Baltimore on Saturday.
Rays: Open their spring training schedule against Atlanta on Feb. 24 in Port Charlotte.
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