X-Factor: Who will be Texas' unsung hero?
A lot of times, it's about role players or good players finding their rhythm at just the right time and turning in monster performances. All you have to do is look at the ALCS and NLCS.
Nelson Cruz hit six homers - no player has ever done that - and drove in a record 13 RBI to win the series MVP. In the NL, St. Louis third baseman David Freese hit two doubles, three homers and drove in nine RBI.
Get the point?
Here's a look at three Rangers who might provide the X factor:
David Murphy: Hitting eighth means Murphy will be probably be protecting Mike Napoli, but with the pitcher behind him he won't many quality pitches. Still, he has six hits in the past three games and has a hit in six of the eight games he's played.
Mark Lowe: Stop laughing. Think of him as a right-handed specialist at a key point in the middle innings, when the Rangers really need a strikeout. He had 42 strikeouts in 46 innings and 201 in 223.1 career innings.
Craig Gentry: He can run, bunt and play a terrific center field. In the late innings, when the Rangers need a run, Gentry who's swiped 20 bases in 21 attempts will be perfect. He's also capable of making a catch to save a game.
And three Cardinals:
David Freese: Has been phenomenal in the playoffs with three games of at least three RBI. Spend too much time focusing on Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman and Freese will get you.
Octavio Dotel: The journeyman reliever has been a beast against the Rangers' lineup. Texas hitters are just 11 of 56 - a .196 batting average - with three homers and seven RBI. Adrian Beltre is just 5 of 22.
Marc Rzepczynski: The lefty has been death on lefties this season - they hit .163 with a homer in 104 regular season at-bats - and figures to have some key matchups with Josh Hamilton or David Murphy in late-inning, game-on-the-line situations.
103.3 FM ESPN PODCASTS
Play Podcast Rangers GM Jon Daniels joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to tackle the tough questions after his team failed to advance to the playoffs.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss having Nelson Cruz back in the lineup and how the Rangers are feeling heading into their wild-card play-in game against the Rays.
Play Podcast ESPN Insider and senior MLB analyst Jim Bowden joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the wild-card race and the Rangers' chances of making the playoffs.
Play Podcast Chuck Cooperstein joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why he feels Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish isn't an ace.
Play Podcast Elvis Andrus joins Galloway and Company to discuss the Rangers' stretch run and the morale level in their clubhouse.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss the latest Rangers news, including the team's struggles, Ron Washington's job security and a rumored trade with the Braves.
Play Podcast Ron Washington joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss the Rangers' dismal September, who's to blame for their September struggles and his status as the team's manager.
Play Podcast Fitzsimmons and Durrett discuss how some people are calling for the Rangers to fire manager Ron Washington.