Wednesday, October 6, 2010

ALDS Game 1: Rangers at Rays

Photo courtesy Tampa Bay Rays
Tropicana Field hosts the first game of this year's postseason.
What better way to get the playoffs underway than with a classic pitching matchup like this: Cliff Lee vs. David Price? Two of the best lefties in the game square off this afternoon at Tropicana Field, with Lee hoping to duplicate his dominant postseason run from last year with the Phillies (4-0, 1.56 ERA) and raise his asking price in free agency in the process, and Price hoping to pick up right where he left off at the end of a regular season in which he went 19-6 with a 2.72 ERA.

This game probably means more to the Rangers, who can ill afford to lose any of Lee's starts, than the Rays, who still have James Shields and Matt Garza waiting in the wings. Texas hasn't had a whole lot of success against Price before. Nelson Cruz (2-for-4, homer) has hit the lefty during their few encounters, but Vladimir Guerrero (2-for-7), Josh Hamilton (1-for-6) and Jorge Cantu (0-for-6, three strikeouts) have struggled against him.

Lee has been less-successful against Texas' hitters over the years. B.J. Upton (7-for-21, three doubles) and Carlos Pena (three homers in 29 at-bats) have good track records against him. Only Evan Longoria (3-for-18) has particularly poor numbers among Tampa Bay regulars against Lee.

I'm not sure how much of this game I'm going to be able to watch, because Stan Kasten is holding his final press conference as Nats president at 3 p.m. at Nationals Park. But if I do, I'll be sure to post some thoughts. Either way, please feel free to discuss the game with each other in the comments section...

Where: Tropicana Field
Gametime: 1:37 p.m.
TV: TBS Radio: WTNT-570 AM
Weather: Dome
SS Elvis Andrus
3B Michael Young
CF Josh Hamilton
DH Vladimir Guerrero
LF Nelson Cruz
2B Ian Kinsler
RF Jeff Francoeur
1B Jorge Cantu
C Bengie Molina
(P Cliff Lee)

SS Jason Bartlett
CF B.J. Upton
LF Carl Crawford
3B Evan Longoria
1B Carlos Pena
DH Rocco Baldelli
RF Ben Zobrist
C Kelly Shoppach
2B Sean Rodriguez
(P David Price)
4:20 p.m. -- So I've been at Nationals Park all afternoon for Stan Kasten's farewell press conference. (Plenty of nuggets from that, and I'll be posting it in a little while.) In the meantime, I've been able to watch bits and pieces of this game. The Rangers currently lead 5-1 in the eighth behind an impressive performance from Cliff Lee, who had to pitch his way out of some early jams but settled in nicely and wound up striking out 10 without issuing a walk over seven innings. David Price wasn't as fortunate, allowing four earned runs over 6 2/3 innings. Of particular note to Nationals fans: Carlos Pena has had a terrible game, going 0-for-3 with three strikeouts (including one with the bases loaded and one out in the first inning) and apparently having some trouble scooping a couple of throws at first base.

4:45 p.m. -- It's over. Rangers win 5-1, a game they really had to have. Impressive showing from Lee. Not so impressive from Price. The Rays now need "Big Game" James Shields to live up to his moniker in Game 2 tomorrow.


Sam said...

Man, I wish I could be as bad as Jeff Francoeur and handed a job to play in the postseason.

I'm usually a Rays enthusiast because I like their model of success (developing from within - like I hope the Nationals will do), but I can't root against our franchise hero, Vladdy. Go Vlad! I hope he gets the World Series win he deserves.

Anonymous said...

If Riggleman managed the Rangers and double-switched Andrus out for Guzman, would the stadium announcer intone "Elvis has left the building"?

Traveler8 said...

This first game is really playing out as a slugfest - 9 hits and only in the bottom of the second. Given all the pitcher hype, I thought this was going to be the lowest scoring post season series on record - maybe not.

Faraz Shaikh said...

Well the lineups are not so bad either. I can understand the surprise against Rays' 4 hits off of Lee but Rangers are good ball club all around.

Lee struck out Bartlett to leave Zobrist on 2nd after his lead off double. 5 Ks in the game so far. Rangers have this one in the pocket.

Faraz Shaikh said...

What Pena did with SS's throw, I am not so sure Dunn could pull that off.

Anonymous said...

Hmm fellow anonymii ... Guzman was left off the roster. Ripe for Riggleman to bring back to the Nats. We have to know Rizzo would never consider it. Something to look forward to in 2011.

souldrummer said...

Kinda surprised that David Price is coming up so small in his first postseason start. Not suprised about Pena FAIL with bases loaded and one out against an elite pitcher. Take note, Rizzo. You'll have these whole playoffs to personally consider whether he's a valid Dunn substitute or not.

NatsJack in Florida said...

Just a quick note. Chien Ming Wang is supposed to pitch one inning in Viera today against the Tigers. The report I saw (by way of the Taiwan News Channel) said he was going to throw mostly sinkers.

NatsJack in Florida said...

Rizzo and Riggleman are supposedly there to watch.

Michael J. Hayde said...

Hmmm... Carl Crawford just stole second with two outs and his team five runs down... and the announcers aren't getting on his case about it. I guess that "honor" is reserved for poor Nyjer.

Michael J. Hayde said...

In fairness, Ray and Bob aren't calling this game, and Mark isn't blogging about it. So maybe that explains the lack of criticism. Maybe.

Bowdenball said...

Also in fairness- The Nats were down 11 runs at the time, and Morgan stole two bases.

Not that criticism is warranted in either case, of course.

The Rangers are a very, very good team when they're healthy, as they are now. 90 wins while losing both Nelson Cruz and Ian Kinsler to multiple DL stints and Hamilton and Guerrero for shorter periods is impressive. And their four-man rotation is as good as anyone in the playoffs except the Phils.

BinM said...

Bowdenball: I'd take the Giants' rotation over the Rangers in a heartbeat.

Faraz Shaikh said...

@ Bowdenball, maybe you haven't looked at Giants and Braves rotation. Many baseball fans will disagree with your comment.

Rays been disappointing this game. First inning, they should have done major damage to Lee and Rangers. That pretty much would have sealed the deal but it was Lee on the mound.

natsfan1a said...

I like the Giants' rotation. (Yeah, I also grew up in the Bay Area and am rooting for them, but that's immaterial. :-))

I heard some of the earlier innings in the Rangers/Rays game but didn't see any. I'd be interested to see the Peña at-bat with the strike call where the ball was said to have hit off the knob of his bat or some such.

Was also hoping for a better outcome for the Rays. I rooted for them during their run in '08 and was hoping they could take a couple at home this series. (I also kinda like Joe Maddon. shhh...) I know Lee's tough, but it's not as though they didn't have any opportunities.

markfd said...

Great performance by Cliff Lee and the Rangers offense, I think the battle with the Yankees for the division may have taken the wind out of the Rays sails.

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