It's officially win-or-go-home time for the Rays and Rangers.
The Rays travel to Texas for Monday night's American League Wild Card tiebreaker to decide who advances to face the Indians in Wednesday's AL Wild Card Game in Cleveland.
Texas earned home-field advantage via its 4-3 regular-season edge over the Rays.
Tampa Bay dropped two of three to the Blue Jays over the weekend, but won Sunday to force the playoff. The Rangers, after struggling for much of September, closed the regular season with seven straight wins to advance to Game 163.
"Tampa Bay is coming into town, now we have to keep our game elevated and do what we have been doing. We don't change anything," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "Just continue to play Texas Rangers baseball and hope to sustain it for a long time to come."
Rangers left-hander Martin Perez and Tampa Bay's David Price will square off in Monday's tiebreaker, set for 7:05 p.m. CT and televised on TBS.
Price comes into Monday's matchup sporting a 2.73 ERA in his last four starts, but he's facing a squad he has been anything but dominant against throughout his career. The reigning AL Cy Young Award winner is 1-4 with a 5.98 ERA in eight starts career starts against Texas -- including a 10.26 mark in four starts in Arlington.
Price also has dropped all three of his postseason starts against the Rangers, two during the 2010 AL Division Series and the other in the 2011 ALDS.
Despite those struggles, Price is ready for the spotlight of Game 163.
"This is hands down my biggest game of this year," Price said. "It's night and day bigger than Opening Day. It's big. This is the moment that I want to be in. I want to be able to relish this moment and just go out there and have fun."
Price likely will have to deal with Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz, who will return to the Rangers roster on Monday after serving his 50-game suspension for violating Major League Baseball's Basic Agreement and its Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment program.
The Rangers did not say Sunday whether Cruz will be in Monday's starting lineup.
"We're playing really good baseball, and the guys are excited," Cruz said. "I'm excited and I'm happy to be back and be with my teammates and play the game that I love."
Rays: Have to slow 'em down
A big key in Monday's tiebreaker will be how well the Rays handle Texas baserunners. The Rangers were second in the Majors with 148 stolen bases this season, with five different players reaching double figures.
Rays catchers caught only 21 percent (32-of-150) of basestealers this season, tied for the third-worst mark in the Majors.
"Have to keep the right guys, or the wrong guys, off base. However you want to look at it," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "You definitely have to attack their speed guys and make sure they do not get to first base."
• If the Rays win Monday, right-hander Jamey Wright (18 years) and outfielder David DeJesus (11) will be appearing in their first postseason.
Rangers: Rookie Perez gets ball
Perez gets the start in the Rangers' most important game of the season on Monday, but the rookie certainly hasn't been pitching like one as of late. The 22-year-old is 7-2 with a 3.26 ERA in his past 10 starts.
"I feel good. He's one of the reasons why we are getting this opportunity, and it's his turn," Washington said. "He's well rested. We have plenty of guys to back him up. If it gets out of control, we can stop it quickly. We have a lot of confidence in him."
Right-handers Alexi Ogando and Matt Garza will be available out of the bullpen to back Perez, who has not yet faced Tampa Bay this season.
• A corresponding move for Cruz being activated to the 40-man roster will be announced Monday.
• This is the fourth time in the last seven years there has been a Game 163.
• Including the postseason, Cruz is 9-for-21 with three home runs against Price. Elvis Andrus (11-for-27), Alex Rios (9-for-26, two homers) and Adrian Beltre (9-for-26, one homer) also have good numbers against the lefty.