Tampa Bay Rays vs. Texas Rangers
The Texas Rangers begin their quest to get back to the World Series for the second year in a row as they host the Tampa Bay Rays for game one of the ALDS. The Rangers are -180 favorites over the Rays with an over/under run total set at 8.
The Texas Rangers had more of a battle down the stretch of the MLB season to win their division title but it wasn’t because of anything they didn’t do well, it was more of a byproduct of the Angels not giving in. In the end the Rangers proved to be too much and finished with the second best record in the American League. Texas finished the season strong winning their last six games and nine of their last 10 and won the A.L. West by 10 games. The Rangers finished with the best team batting average in the Majors at .283 led by Michael Young at .338, Josh Hamilton at .298 and 25 home runs, and Adrian Beltre at .296 with 32 home runs and 105 RBI’s. When Cliff Lee departed after last season it left a hole in the Rangers pitching staff but C.J. Wilson has stepped up and he gets the start in game one. While Wilson hasn’t picked up a win in his last three starts he didn’t allow a run last time out in a no decision and has three games with zero runs allowed in his last five starts and has only allowed more than two runs once in his last 11 starts. For the season Wilson has allowed 191 hits and 73 earned runs while striking out 206 over 223.1 innings of work.
The Tampa Bay Rays final weeks of the regular season was a microcosm of their entire season as the Rays started the season with a losing streak, played their way back into the thick of things, and ended up in the ALDS. With their backs to the wall the Rays erased a huge deficit in the Wild Card race by the Boston Red Sox and no matter what happens going forward this post season it will never take anything away from the epic performance of this team over the final few weeks of the season and their dramatic final game. As a team the Rays hit .244 this year which was just 25th in in baseball led by Casey Kotchman at .306, Matt Joyce at .277, and Ben Zobrist at .269 while Evan Logoria led the Rays with 31 home runs with none being bigger than his 12th inning blast that won the Wild Card for Tampa Bay. With most of their top starters used up during the week to get the Rays into the post season Jeff Niemann gets the start by default. Niemann has pitched well this season allowing two runs in each of his last three starts but losing his last two starts against the Rangers while getting hit fairly hard in each of them. For the season Niemann has allowed 131 hits and 61 earned runs while striking out 105 over 135.1 innings of work.
Texas is 4-1 in their last five games against a team with a winning record, 28-11 in their last 39 home games, 35-16 in their last 51 games overall, and 26-9 in Wilson’s last 35 home starts. Tampa Bay is 5-0 in their last five games against a team with a winning record, 6-1 in their last seven games against a left handed starter, and 2-6 in their last eight playoff games. Texas is 3-1-1 in Wilson’s last five starts against the Rays.
We have two pitchers here who just haven’t given up the runs recently. I am going to take the under 8 in game 1 of this series.