For the first time in franchise history, the Texas Rangers have home-field advantage in the ALDS, and it all begins a few hours from now (4 p.m. CDT) in Arlington as the Rangers host the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 1.
Texas is going with C.J. Wilson (16-7, 2.94 ERA) versus Tampa Bay rookie Matt Moore (1-0, 2.89 ERA).
Texas Rangers’ pitchers fell just two strikeouts short of a club record while issuing the fewest walks of any Texas staff since 1978. They will oppose a Rays offense that scored only 4.36 runs a game, a 10th of a run lower than the A.L. average.
And while the Rays enter on an emotional high, having swiped the wild card from Boston, the Rangers actually played a bit better in September. The Rays went 17-10, and the Rangers went 19-6 and won 10 of their last 11.
Matt Treanor will be on the playoff roster as the Rangers have decided to go with a seven-man bullpen for their American League Division Series against the Rays. Alexi Ogando and Scott Feldman will be part of that bullpen.
The Rangers wanted Treanor as their third catcher because it will give manager Ron Washington flexibility in how they use Yorvit Torrealba and Mike Napoli. This allows him to use both in the same lineup, which could be the case in Game 1 on Friday with Rays left-hander Matt Moore on the mound.
“It gives us versatility with both Torrealba and Napoli, with Napoli being versatile against left-handers,” Washington said. “Both of them have been very productive for us this year, and I want both of them to stay engaged. And that’s what it gives me. It gives me versatility, especially with Napoli being able to go in the DH spot and play some first base. May want to DH Torre [Torrealba] and catch Napoli, and I still have a catcher if something happens.”
Last year’s division series between the teams is the only major league postseason series in which the road team won every game. After Cliff Lee and C. J. Wilson stifled the Rays at Tropicana Field, Tampa Bay took two in Arlington. Back in St. Petersburg for the decisive fifth game, Lee fired a six-hitter to beat David Price for the second time. The Rays struck out 55 times in the series, but 28 whiffs came against Lee and Tommy Hunter, who no longer pitch for the Rangers.
• The Rangers led all of baseball in batting average for the second consecutive year and the third time in the last four years. Texas also had the fewest strikeouts in baseball.
• MLB announced that Game 2 of the American League Division Series against the Rays will be at 6:07 PM CST on Saturday on TNT, and Game 3 will be at 4:07 PM CST on TBS on Monday.
• Pitchers Michael Kirkman and Mark Hamburger were sent to the Arizona Instructional League to pitch in games and stay sharp in case the pair are needed in subsequent playoff rounds. Both were left off the playoff roster.
• The Rangers improved their record from 90-72 in 2010 to 96-66 this season. It marks the fourth straight season the club has improved its record, which marks the longest stretch in Texas history.
• The Rangers, spell out “TEXAS” across both their home and road jerseys; they do not wear a version that spells out their nickname. The Rays do not have a jersey that says “Tampa Bay” — they are “RAYS,” at home and on the road.
Rookie left-hander Matt Moore threw seven shutout innings in his second major league start and Kelly Shoppach hit two home runs, leading the Rays to a 9-0 win over the Texas Rangers in Game 1 of their AL division series on Friday.
Moore (1-0) was the first pitcher to start a playoff game with one or fewer previous MLB starts, but the box score betrayed everything about that fact.
The 22-year-old rookie gave up just two hits, two walks and struck out six while becoming the youngest American League pitcher in 40 years to start his team’s first game of the post season.
Tampa Bay scored its first eight runs off Wilson, the left-hander who went 16-7 for Texas during the regular season but couldn’t make it to the sixth inning of this one.
C.J. Wilson gave up seven hits and a walk while striking out six. Two of the eight runs scored against him were unearned.
The Rangers, who won six straight games to end the regular season and were 14-2 in their last 16, got only two hits in Game 1. Both came from Josh Hamilton, who singled in the first inning and stroked a leadoff double in the fourth.
I can’t express my disappointment in the Ranger’s performance. Neither the team nor the fans seemed into the game. Embarrassing!