(Sports Network) - The Texas Rangers turn to C.J. Wilson this afternoon when they try to take a commanding two games to none lead against the Tampa Bay Rays in the best-of-five American League Division Series at Tropicana Field.
The AL West-champion Rangers, who are back in the postseason for the first time since 1999, snapped a nine-game postseason losing streak and claimed just their second playoff win in franchise history.
"I guess whatever happens from this point on will be history in Texas Rangers folklore," manager Ron Washington said. "I'm just happy my guys were relaxed and they were able to go out there and play the type of game that we know we can play."
Texas, the only team in the majors to never win a postseason series, has lost all three playoff series it has contested, but took a big step toward its first victory thanks to Lee (1-0), who gave up just one run on five hits and did not walk a batter.
"He's one of the best pitchers in the game, and he's a lot of fun to catch, man," said Molina. "He's unbelievable. He controls the fastball so well. He throws the cutter wherever he wants to, outside, inside. He put the ball up whenever he wants to. He throws that curveball. He's as good as anybody."
Lee got support from his offense, which plated five runs (four earned) off Tampa Bay ace David Price. Price (0-1) gave up nine hits in 6 2/3 innings, though did not walk a batter and struck out eight.
Ben Zobrist's solo homer in the seventh inning provided the lone run for the Rays, who won the AL East to reach the postseason for the second time in their history.
Today the Rangers turn to lefty C.J. Wilson, who was a pleasant surprise for Texas this season transitioning from reliever to starter and going 15-8 with a 3.35 ERA.
"When things go according to plan, everybody looks smart," Wilson said. "I guess things went according to plan with the transition to starting. So everything is good."
Fatigue, though, could be setting in, as he won just one time in his last six starts. His 204 innings are 130 more than he threw in 2009.
Wilson beat the Rays the only time he faced them this season, but was hit hard, as he allowed five runs (three earned) and six hits in five innings.
Tampa, meanwhile, will now try to become the first team since the 2005 Los Angeles Angels to advance after losing a first-round opener at home. If they are going to do that, though, they need James Shields to be the pitcher he was for them during the 2008 playoffs.
Shields lost his last three starts and final four decisions this year to finish 13-15 with a 5.18 ERA.
"We have to win," said Shields, who was 2-2 with a 2.88 ERA in the Rays' run to the AL pennant two years ago. "We have to win one at home here. Tomorrow is a big start. I think if we get off to a good start early in the game, things will flow nicely."
This year Shields was tied for the most hits in baseball and led the league in earned runs allowed and home runs. He is the first pitcher since division play began in 1969 to lead the league in those categories and still pitch in the postseason.
"I mean, I feel really good," Shields said. "Like I said, it's kind of weird. It's like my last three games, I got crushed by one hit, you know. It could have been a great outing each time. But no, I feel really good, though. It's been a long season, that's for sure. But there were a lot of ups and downs this year. I've dealt with it pretty good. But I've got a good mindset."
Of the 60 Division Series that have been played since 1995, the team that won Game 1 went on to win the entire series 43 times.