High Noon Rays versus Rangers Showdown

 


 

Did we possibly see the Texas Rangers today accidentally awaken a sleeping Rays ball club. Could the Rays offensive explosion in the 8th and 9th innings tonight be a by-product of the outstanding pitching performance being provided tonight by Rays starter Matt Garza. With this sudden burst of often elusive firepower coming from all sides of the Rays line-up, could this game prove that the heart and soul of this Rays squad is still very much alive and pumping some extreme energy ?


Tonight’s game truly looked like a team slowly awakening from a slumber of the lumber when the once offensively dormant Rays finally pushed across their second run of the American League Divisional Series in the top of the 6th inning. Could this Rays team have finally wiped the sleep dust out of their eyes and become the solid hitting machine this team needs for the rest of this series. Or could tomorrow be more of a return to form of Games 1 and 2 anemic Rays offense. Interesting sidebar point in this ALDS series is that the home team has not won a single ballgame, or been in a position to win after the 8th inning.

19 other times in modern baseball lore, an American League club has gone down 0-2 in a ALDS with only 4 teams (1995 Mariners, 1999 Red Sox, 2001 Yankees and 2003 Red Sox) having the stuff to fight back from the brink of defeat to solidify themselves and eventually take the ALDS series. Interesting enough, the 2001 Yankees were the only team (before the 2010 Rays) to fall behind 0-2 at home. Could it be a great omen that the 2001 Yankees completed their ALDS comeback and went on to win that season’s World Series?.

Before tonight’s 6-3 Rays victory, the Rangers had outscored the powerless Rays 11-1 and out hit the usually potent Rays offense 19-8 over the first two games of this ALDS. Tonight the Rays belted out a 11-6 hit advantage over the Rangers, and made the red clad Texas crowd take their brooms back home under their arms. The anemic Rays were truly pitiful at Tropicana Field, hitting a paltry 1-13 ( .077) with 9 strikeouts with runners in scoring position before tonight’s offensive awakening.

Tonight the Rays were 3-9 with Runners in scoring position, a massive improvement with the Rays trio of Carlos Pena, B J Upton and John Jaso all providing key hits to score or provide insurance runs to show support for the 4 Rays pitchers that took the hill tonight. It was a solid team effort from a team that looked puzzled and bewildered before they boarded a charter flight to Texas after Thursday afternoon’s contest.

Rays hitters produced an impressive 11 for 37 ( .336) mark tonight as the Rays saw a total of 173 pitches, 50 pitches more than the hometown Rangers. To throw a quick comparison with their prior two performances, in Game one the Rays saw 136 total pitches and only managed 6 hits with one Rays Ben Zobrist getting 2 of those hits and their only run. Game 2 saw the Ranger pitching staff throw 135 pitches with only 2 hits with only Willy Aybar hitting an extra base hit (double).

 

The way the Rays offense woke up today was remarkable since the rays offense had only produced 3 extra base hits and a solo run ( Zobrist HR) before the Rays produced 5 extra base hits tonight, including Home Runs by Carl Crawford (solo) and Pena (3-run HR). How dramatic was the Game 3 turnaround of the Rays? According to the Elias Sports Bureau, only one other team has begun a preliminary postseason series (ALDS/ALCS) with no more than 1 run and no more than 8 hits in their prior two contests (2009 Boston versus Los Angeles Angels). Tonight that statistic is just dust in the wind as the Rays kept from being swept and sent packing by the Rangers.


Finally this Rays team is beginning to hit the ball like the American League East Champions. All along you knew the power and the strength was within them, but now they are bringing it to the plate and providing more than enough ammunition to defeat the Rangers. But the hard work is far from over. Will the Rays formulize an effective hitting and pitching scheme on Sunday to provide the fourth losing game in this ALDS for the home squad.

The Rays will be sending rookie right-hander WD-40 (Wade Davis) to the mound tomorrow afternoon with a chance to again take the Rangers to the Trop. for a one and done possible rematch of lefties David Price and Cliff Lee in the decisive Game 5.

Some within the Rays republic have questioned the idea of starting Davis in this key Game 4, but I feel he has more than shown his maturity and value throughout this 2010 season. Davis has been one of the most solid rookie pitchers in the American League in 2010, but might have to throw the game of his career to get the Rays in solid position to win this contest.

But going into this game, Davis’s had won 7 of his last 8 starts, with only a non decision to blemish his record since coming off the DL. His only non decision came in Game 162 with Davis’s start last Sunday in Kansas City on the last day of the regular season. Since July, the Rays have won 9 of his previous 13 starts. Davis finished the MLB season leading all AL Rookies in ERA (4.07), winning percentage (.545) and was second in innings, starts and strikeouts behind only Baltimore rookie pitcher Brian Matusz.

More importantly, Davis has been gaining more consistency and control as he took the mound in his last 7 starts, and finally seems to be very comfortable in his MLB skin. That bodes well for the Rays, and a solid first five innings could prove to be a vital key to a possible Rays win. If Davis can keep this game close or possibly scoreless and let the Rays offense get their new found hitting on track, this series could definitely be headed for a fifth and final contest.

 

That has to be the front and center the motivational centerpiece for the Rays right now. If they take their new offensive awareness to Rangers starter Tommy Hunter tomorrow, then their fate will definitely rests in their own hands. But if they falter, it is going to be a long Fall and Winter for the Rays 25. But the ice has been cracked, the Rays once lifeless bats have been awoken to bring about a Game 4 old fashion Texas showdown.


Game 4 will officially begin just past high noon (12:07 pm CST) in the Fall Texas sun, but it will be definitely hotter and more humid with every hitter from both team’s who step in the Batter’s box tomorrow. Both squads desperately need a victory for another step towards bringing another page of history to their respective franchises. If the Rangers win, it will be their first postseason series win in their club’s Washington/Texas history.

If the Rays are victorious, they are still on track to become only the fifth team to come back from 0-2 to be in line to possibly win their once lop-sided ALDS series. It is time for the Rays ultimate “Feel the Heat” motivational scheme to further push the Rangers new fangled “Claws and antlers” into the background. Sounds like the perfect Texas mano-on-mano style gunfight. Wonder if the Rays will come firing blanks or multiple bazooka rounds in this high noon showdown?

14 Comments

Huge comeback for your guys today. I’ll be watching tomorrow to do a little scouting…..

http://janeheller.mlblogs.com

Jane,
Expect a great ballgame with a renewed running game and a possible clipping of the Rangers mystic.
People forget Cliff Lee is 1-3 against us, if there is a Game 5…..it is going to be a barnburner!

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

This is the Rays that I have been loving all year. They were lose, they pitched, they played good defense, and they got timely hits. Even most of the time when their offense would fail them, they still pitched and caught well.

The first two games were a nightmare.

Strangely enough I feel a load of pressure taken off of me. I know that we are still in a 2-1 deficit, but I feel like the Rangers would rather not face of with the Rays in a winner-takes-all situation at the Trop. They’re not gonna beat Price twice.

Davis is going to pitch solidly tomorrow, I think. It’d be superb if we could get a few runs early.

My biggest concern is what the heat is going to be like tomorrow. The Rays have a track record of playing terrible games when it is hot in Arlington.

Charm,
Just consulted a friend at Bay News 9, and they told me it is now 63 degrees and will hit possibly 87 degrees by game time.
It will not be that same 100+ heat that boiled us like a lobster in June.
I agree totally that the team looked loose, seems to push the pressure off their shests and were having fun, but winning can do that to you in a heartbeat.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

The best road team in the majors this year just showed everyone why, great win and today maybe we’ll see them go to a game 5 decider in Tampa…

-peter

Phillies Outside

The Rays looked like they really clicked last night…looked more like the Rays I remember! The Rangers (and the Yankees!) better look out…
-Virginia
http://southernbelle.mlblogs.com

Peter,
For some reason,this team has stubbed its toes all year long at home against some foes that they should have beaten.
We swept the Rangers at the Trop earlier this season, but those first two games reminded me of the two losses to Baltimore at home less than a week and a half ago.
Hopefully the Baseball Gods will smile on us today and give us a last chance to fulfill some Rays destiny.
Either we win or go home….it is simple now.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Virginia,
I am hoping that clicking happens like apair of castinets at a Tex-Mex watering hole in Arlington,Texas today.
Any small deviation from their offensive awakening last night will mean a sad trip home to Tampa Bay.
I am hoping it is not just another trip down the rabbit hole if the Rays do push this series into a Game 5 scenario.
Rays got to remember what got them here and push themselves out of their slumber.
Should be an interesting game today. Another right-hander for the Rays to possibly feast on….maybe.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Today kinda went how I called it in my last post. Or at least hoped it.

“Davis is going to pitch solidly tomorrow, I think. It’d be superb if we could get a few runs early.”

We got those runs early, and Davis did a superb job of not serving up anything and not allowing the Rangers to mash the ball. The heat did not hurt them either, as it was not nearly as bad.

Hopefully Price is ready for a game 5.

Charm,
I also think Davis is a better pitcher right now than James Sheilds, but that might not be saying much right now.
Great that Longo got back on track, and that Pena had another solid day for himself.
Glad Maddon finally did the right thing and put Pena again behind Longo to force Texas to pitch to him.
Price will be ready…..You can count on it!

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Congrats from a Phillies fan. Well done. Can’t wait for game 5.

Keiw,
One more steps towards the ultimate goal.
Got a few sandspurs in the way, but hoprfully they are just small obstacles in a better path to destiny.
Thank you for that, and congrats on your red stripes getting to another NLCS.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Good luck tonight! It’ll make a great comeback story if they pull it off!

Kaiser,
That pretty much sums it up in a nice little nutshell. Win and you become the darlings of the ball. Lose and it is a sad tale of gone too soon with all that talent.
I think this team will win it tonight to celebrate the team and the players that will soon be gone away from this team.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

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