The visiting Rangers haven't been very kind to their Tampa Bay hosts the last couple of years: Monday's game was their fifth consecutive ALDS road win, dating back to last year's series with the Rays. If they make it six on Tuesday, they'll advance to the ALCS.
Rookie Jeremy Hellickson hopes to keep that from happening. He's technically making his postseason debut, but considering Tampa Bay's win-or-stay-home stretch run, he feels he's already been tested.
"The last four or five starts have been pretty much playoff starts," Hellickson said. "The games we played at the end of the year were pretty much the exact same (as postseason games)."
Hellickson has been phenomenal all season, but he's been especially nails late in the year, not allowing more than three runs (earned or otherwise) in any of his final eight starts. That stretch includes a tough-luck loss to the Rangers on Aug. 30, in which he allowed just two runs over six innings but was tagged with the "L" when his teammates failed to score a single run. Needless to say, the Rays will have a very long winter if they leave him again like that again.
Matt Harrison, who got his postseason feet wet in Game 1 when he pitched a third of an inning of relief, hasn't started a game against the Rays since 2008 -- and he's a much improved pitcher these days. He's also performed extremely well down the stretch, winning four of his last five starts. The Rangers won his lone no-decision in that span, a game in which he allowed just one run over six innings to the Angels.
Game Date/Time: 2:00 p.m. ET, October 4, 2011
Stadium: Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Florida
Texas: Matt Harrison (14-9, 3.39 ERA)
Tampa Bay: Jeremy Hellickson (13-10, 2.95 ERA)
For a Beyond the Boxscore perspective of the game, be sure to check out Bill Petti's preview of the series. Check out our Tampa Bay Rays blog DRaysBay and Texas Rangers blog Lone Star Ball for more Game 3 analysis.