Rangers Advance To ALCS For Second Straight Season

The Texas Rangers defeated the Tampa Bay Rays, 4-3, in Game 4 of the ALDS to advance to the American League Championship Series.

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Adrian Beltre's Three Home Runs Boost Rangers Back To ALCS

Beltre slugged three homers, Ian Kinsler added a fourth, and the Rangers' arms kept the Rays quiet as Texas eliminated Tampa Bay in four games and moved on.


Rangers vs. Rays: Game 2 Highlights From The Live-Blog

After dropping Game 1 to the red-hot Tampa Bay Rays, the Texas Rangers took the field in Arlington on Saturday staring down the possibility of falling into an 0-2 hole. But the Rangers rose to meet the challenge, shaking off Friday's shutout loss to even the series with an 8-6 win.

Just like Friday night, the Baseball Nation staff live-blogged the game. If you missed it, here's a few of the highlights.

In the first inning, it looked like more of the same for the Rangers. Starter Derek Holland worked himself into a bases loaded jam before walking home a run. After the early trouble, Holland settled himself, getting out of the inning with only a flesh wound as the Rays took an early 2-0 lead.

After a visit from pitching coach Mike Maddux, though, Holland got Sean Rodriguez to ground into an inning-ending fielder's choice, and disaster averted. Holland and catcher Mike Napoli seemed to be on different pages through much of the inning, and Holland threw 29 pitches.

In the bottom half of the inning, Texas probably should have made up the deficit and then some, if not for a superb play by Rays second baseman Ben Zobrist. Elvis Andrus his a liner toward right, but Zobrist made a heck of a play to clear the bases.

Except Andrus's liner didn't reach right field, because second baseman Ben Zobrist snagged the ball in the outer bit of his glove's webbing. Worse (for the Rangers), Kinsler assumed Zobrist couldn't make the play and was easily doubled off first. What should (by all right) have been two on and nobody out became, faster than you can say Jack Robinson, two out and nobody on.

The Rays escaped unharmed, and after a scoreless first, Tampa Bay headed back to the dish and took advantage of Holland's shaky control. With one on and two out, Matt Joyce tagged Holland, giving his Rays a 3-0 lead.

Holland should have been out of the inning. Instead he threw a bunch of breaking balls out of the zone to All-Star Matt Joyce, fell behind in the count, and threw a fastball down the pipe that Joyce destroyed for a two-run home run off the facade of the upper deck in right field.

Considering how Friday went, one would think Texas was all but dead at this point. But not so: the Rangers scored their first runs of the series in the fourth as James Shields got a little wild for Tampa Bay. Five runs later, Texas had the lead, and the pendulum was swinging in Rangers' favor.

Alexi Ogando came on in relief of Holland in the fifth -- a luxury for Ron Washington as Rob Neyer explained -- and the Rays bats were suddenly silent. Texas' bats, however, were not. Shields left the game in the sixth, Jake McGee took over and the Rangers kept piling on. Interestingly enough, McGee plunked a batter, which is notable for the reasons Neyer explained below.

McGee's first batter was pinch-hitter Craig Gentry, who moved the runners up with a sacrifice bunt. McGee's second batter was Mitch Moreland, who took a fastball in the middle of the back. This was notable for a couple of reasons: 1) it loaded the bases, and 2) it was the first time in 2011 that McGee had plunked a batter.

Texas added two more runs to take a 7-3 lead, and needed each of those insurance runs after Evan Longoria continued his hot-streak with a three-run home run in the seventh.

But that was as close as the Rays would get, with the Rangers tacking on one more run and closing out the game for an 8-6 win. Tampa Bay heads back to the Trop with the series tied at one, but lost out on a chance to put the Rangers in an 0-2 hole.

For more on this game, be sure to check out the rest of the live-blog and Rob Neyer's recap.


Rangers vs. Rays: Highlights From Friday's Game 1 Live-Blog

The Tampa Bay Rays traveled to Arlington to face the Texas Rangers for the first game of the 2011 MLB playoffs, riding the high of Wednesday night's walk-off win to secure the AL Wild Card. The Rays picked up right where they left off, pounding the Rangers to take Game 1 by a 9-0 margin.

Along the way, the Baseball Nation staff live-blogged the matchup, narrating the twists and turns of Game 1. Here are a few of the highlights.

Perhaps the best moment of the game occurred before the teams took the field. The young son of Shannon Stone, the man who fell to his death at Rangers Ballpark earlier this year, threw out the first pitch to Josh Hamilton. Because it can't be watched enough, here is the video again.

Game 1 started off slowly enough, with both pitchers recording scoreless first innings. Texas starter C.J. Wilson probably had the better inning, and it may have been the best part of his night.

C.J. Wilson was arguably twice as good as Matt Moore, though, as Wilson needed only nine pitches to dispatch the Rays in order, while Moore needed 18 pitches, in part because of Josh Hamilton’s single to left field.

It was all downhill for Wilson, though. In the second, Johnny Damon broke the scoreless tie, taking Wilson deep for a two-run home run to give the Rays the early lead. Damon was batting fifth, the first of many moves Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon made that worked to near perfection.

C.J. Wilson gave up only two home runs to left-handed hitters all season.

One of those was hit by Rays right fielder Matt Joyce.

Johnny Damon hit only six home runs against left-handed pitchers all season.

With a lead in hand, Tampa Bay starter Matt Moore settled in and began to mow down the Rangers' powerful lineup. The 22-year-old rookie was short on experience, and a questionable Game 1 starter, but he delivered early and often on Friday afternoon.

Still wondering about Joe Maddon's managerial choices? How about the decision to toss Kelly Shoppach into the lineup? Shoppach turned the Rays' 3-0 lead into a six-run advantage with one swing of the bat, taking Wilson deep to center field for a three-run home run.

But for whatever reason, Joe Maddon put Shoppach in the lineup to start Game One of the NLDS. And CJ Wilson threw a pretty good pitch  ... and Shoppach hit it out to dead center field for a three-run home run. The odds are now up to 2.6% that he's this year's Cody Ross.

As an aside, Shoppach's homer provided the first highlight of the night, turned in by an intrepid fan who snagged the home run in center, then promptly tossed it back.

In case you still weren't convinced about Maddon, Shoppach added a second home run -- this time of the two run variety -- to give the Rays an 8-0 lead in the fifth. So why was Shoppach batting sixth? Maddon had a hunch.

After that first home run, the TBS crew briefly interviewed Joe Maddon, who was queried about his decision to start Shoppach against Wilson. Maddon's response (paraphrased): "Shoppie's hit left-handers pretty well."

Moore cruised through the rest of his outing, striking out six and walking two while allowing just two hits in seven shutout innings. The Rangers went quietly and by the time it was all over, the Rays had a 9-0 lead in Game 1 to seize control of the seize right out of the gates.

For more on the game, check out the rest of the Game 1 live-blog and Grant Brisbee's recap.


Matt Moore, Tampa Bay Rays Shut Out Texas Rangers In First Game Of ALDS

Tampa Bay thoroughly dominated the Texas Rangers in Game One of the ALDS behind a stellar performance from Matt Moore and a two-homer game from Kelly Shoppach.


Division Series Preview: Rangers vs. Rays

The Texas Rangers are big favorites to beat the Tampa Bay Rays in their Division Series, but what do the numbers say about this one?


MLB Playoffs 2011: Rangers Roster Set For ALDS Against The Rays

The Texas Rangers officially announced their roster Friday for the 2011 MLB Playoffs. The squad notably added Scott Feldman to the bullpen, Matt Treanor at catcher and Esteban German as a utility infielder to round out the team's 25 spots.

Feldman will be the long reliever in a bullpen that includes Neftali Feliz, Mike Adams, Koji Uehara, and lefties Mike Gonzalez and Darren Oliver. Alexi Ogando will join the bullpen from the regular season starting rotation for the ALDS against the Tampa Bay Rays.

The Rangers chose to add Treanor instead of another long reliever, giving the the squad three catchers for the playoffs. Treanor will allow the Rangers to use Mike Napoli and Yorvit Torrealba in the same line up if need be. Either could start Game 1 against the Rays.

German was added in place of Andres Blanco who is dealing with a stress fracture in his lower back. The Rangers' infield will be 1B Mitch Moreland, 2B Ian Kinsler, SS Elvis Andrus and 3B Adrian Beltre with Michael Young your designated hitter. The outfield will be comprised of David Murphy, Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz, Craig Gentry and Endy Chavez.

C.J. Wilson will take the mound Friday against the Rays, with Derek Holland, Colby Lewis and Matt Harrison rounding out the four-man rotation.

For more on the Rangers, visit the SB Nation team blog Lone Star Ball.


MLB Playoffs 2011: Rays Roster Will Carry Four Rookies On Pitching Staff

The Tampa Bay Rays have officially announced their playoff roster for the ALDS against the Texas Rangers. Most notably making the roster are four rookies on the pitching staff.

Matt Moore of one career start will take the mound for the Rays on Friday in Texas. Joining him in the rotation will be David Price, James Shield and Jeremy Hellickson. Jeff Niemann was notably left off the roster after posting a 6.94 ERA in his five September starts.

The bullpen will be comprised of lefties Jake McGee and J.P. Howell, and righties Wade Davis, Juan Cruz, Kyle Farnsworth and Joel Peralta. Brandon Gomes is another rookie who could see the mound, having posted a 2.92 ERA in 40 appearances for the Rays this season.

The Rays rostered three catchers for the playoffs--Kelly Shoppach, Jose Lobaton and John Jaso--and five outfielders--Johnny Damon, Matt Joyce, B.J. Upton, Sam Fuld and Desmond Jennings. Tampa Bay's outfield will be 1B Casey Kotchman, 2B Ben Zobrist, SS Reid Brignac and 3B Evan Longoria, along with multi-postional players Sean Rodriquez and Elliot Johnson.

For more on the Rays, head over to the SB Nation blog DRaysBay.


Who Is Matt Moore?

Matt Moore wasn't around in 2011 to push the Rays to the playoffs, but here he is, starting Game 1 for them.


Moneyball Lives! Just Not In Oakland (Or Boston)

Anyone who wants to know if "Moneyball" still works need only pay attention to what the Tampa Bay Rays have been doing for the last four seasons.


Rays Vs. Rangers, ALDS Game 1 Preview: Time, TV Schedule, Starting Pitchers And More

The Tampa Bay Rays will start rookie Matt Moore in the Game 1 opener of the ALDS while traveling to face the Texas Rangers. First pitch is scheduled for 5:07 p.m. on TBS.


Rays Rotation: Matt Moore To Start Game One

Matt Moore has started one game in his major-league career. Matt Moore is starting the first game of the American League Division Series for the Tampa Bay Rays. From the St. Petersburg Times:

Rays name Moore and Shields to start Games 1 and 2

I wonder if the Rays can hire Jason Tyner to push the wheelbarrow that holds Joe Maddon's ... well, you know.

Moore is one of the best prospects in the game, and, according to Kevin Goldstein, has some of the easiest upper-90s velocity in the game. Still, he's only made one start in the majors.

There is a little bit of a precedent, though not quite on this scale. Maddon used David Price in a key relief role in 2008 after just 14 innings in the majors. It's not quite the same as starting a game, but this sort of young trust has worked before

James Shields will start Game Two, which is just swell, but Matt Moore! It's just so crazy, it might work. Or be a total debacle that causes Moore to break down, reemerge as a hitter, and someday post a .300ish OBP for the Royals. Po-tay-to, po-tah-to.


Texas Rangers Prepare ALDS Rotation

After fighting for their lives all the way through late Wednesday night, the Tampa Bay Rays are understandably still trying to sort out how they're going to attack the Texas Rangers in the ALDS. The Rangers, though, have got things mostly figured out. According to Ron Washington, their rotation will be:

C.J. Wilson
Derek Holland
Colby Lewis
Matt Harrison

The Rangers haven't yet figured out which of Lewis and Harrison will go in Game 3, and which will go in Game 4, but the order isn't as important as the names.

A notable omission here is Alexi Ogando, who posted a 3.51 ERA over 169 innings. There was talk, though, that Ogando was wearing down over the course of the year, so he has been shifted to the bullpen for shorter outings. There, he'll work alongside Scott Feldman, another starter-turned-reliever. He'll also work alongside Koji Uehara, Neftali Feliz, Mike Adams, Mike Gonzalez, and Darren Oliver, and holy crap, I don't know if the Rangers are ever going to allow a late run. That is a dynamite group of relievers. The Rays are gonna want to attack these starters early and often. Just like any other team would, in any other circumstance. But you know what I mean.

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