Tampa Bay Rays
The Texas Rangers have never won a playoff series in their history, making them the only franchise that can say that in baseball. That could all change on Saturday afternoon if they can take out the Tampa Bay Rays for a third straight game to head to the ALDS.
Tampa Bay has looked totally lost in this series both on the mound and at the plate. The team only has eight hits to show for two games worth of work and only one run. The Rays feel like they have been slighted by some iffy umpiring calls in this series as well, most notably a check swing in the fifth inning of Thursday's Game 2 that should've probably been ruled as strike three. The very next pitch, a three run homer blew the game wide open, and consequently, manager Joe Maddon was tossed.
For the Rangers, this series has been a case of total dominating. Home runs by Michael Young, Ian Kinsler, Nelson Cruz, and Bengie Molina have shocked the Rays, while starting pitchers Cliff Lee and CJ Wilson have combined to allow just one run in 13.1 innings of work.
It will be up to Matt Garza to keep the Rays afloat on Saturday afternoon. He has the capability to come up big when it counts, and he has a no hitter to his credit this year. Garza was the MVP in the ALCS two years ago against the Boston Red Sox, and he'll need his best stuff to try to keep the Rangers at bay and force a Game 4. Garza went 15-10 this season with a 3.91 ERA. Though he has lost three of his L/4 starts, Maddon loves throwing him in this spot due to the fact that he is 5-3 with a 3.97 career ERA against the Rangers.
For Texas, RHP Colby Lewis can close this series out and send the Rangers to the ALCS. Lewis hasn't allowed more than two earned runs in a start since September 4th, and in spite of the fact that his won/loss record is just 12-13, he had a stellar 3.72 ERA on the season. Lewis has never lost to the Rays (2-0) in spite of the fact that his ERA is a woeful 7.71 against them in his career.
The Rays badly need a wakeup call right now, and if there is a manager that can get the job done in this type of a situation, Maddon is the man you want. However, even he won't be able to get things changed in just two days. His team is sleepwalking through the postseason right now, and it will be bounced on Saturday afternoon. Pencil the Rangers into ALCS betting action next week.
Selection: Texas Rangers -130