The Tampa Bay Rays and Texas Rangers continue their American League Division Series Saturday night inside Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
Tampa Bay Rays at Texas Rangers
Tampa Bay clinched the AL Wild Card spot on the regular season’s final night and then proceeded to capture a 9-0 road win over the Texas Rangers in the first game of their best-of-five series. “I am glad we got off to a good start, and we have two more to go,” commented Rays starting pitcher Matt Moore. On July 27, the Rays trailed the first place Boston Red Sox by 11.5 games, only to erase the entire deficit and end up here. The starting rotation posted an AL-best and club record 3.53 ERA, as the team allowed an AL-low 614 runs. Offensively, catcher Kelly Shoppach led the way in the opener, homering twice and finishing with five RBIs. Tampa Bay is 45-37 on the road this season and 32-19 versus left-handed starters.
Rays starting pitcher James Shields finished the regular season with a 16-12 record and 2.82 ERA, entering off a 5-2 home win over the New York Yankees, giving up two runs and six hits over 8 2/3 innings. The right-hander tallied an even 7-7 mark and 3.35 ERA in 16 road starts, surrendering 15 home runs in 115 2/3 innings. In eight career starts versus the Rangers, Shields is 5-2 with a 3.05 ERA, issuing just nine walks and registering 50 strikeouts in 59 frames.
Texas suffered the largest shutout loss by an AL team in the playoffs since 1945, which was shocking due to the club leading the majors in batting average for the second consecutive year and third time in four seasons. “Obviously, this wasn’t our best game,” stated Rangers infielder Michael Young. “We’ll come out tomorrow, play hard and expect better things.” The Rangers went 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position and saw their all-time record drop to 9-17 in the playoffs. The series wasn’t suppose to start this way with the club finishing September with a 19-6 record. Texas is 8-0 after getting shutout this season.
Rangers starting pitcher Derek Holland finished the regular season with a 16-5 record and 3.95 ERA, entering on a five-game winning streak. The left-hander picked up a 12-5 home win over the Seattle Mariners in his last outing, giving up three runs and five hits over five frames. He has garnered an 8-2 record and 4.69 ERA in 16 home starts, as opponents have hit .292 against him. In five career starts versus the Rays, Holland is 3-1 with a 6.51 ERA, allowing eight home runs in just 27 2/3 innings.
Bettors will likely back the Rangers due to their 4-0 mark in Holland’s last four starts as a favorite, while the Rays are 2-6 in Shields last eight road starts.
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