Three reasons the Rangers win / lose tonight
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Texas Rangers get a chance at new life tonight, facing the Baltimore Orioles in the AL wild-card game. The winner moves on to the ALDS against the New York Yankees on Sunday and the loser’s season is finished.
So let’s look at three reasons the Rangers win tonight and three reasons they lose.
Yu Darvish: The club’s top pitcher must pitch like it. He’s been very solid his last eight starts – all quality starts – and he’s very difficult on clubs that have never seen him (10-3, 3.12 ERA vs. teams the first time he sees them). Darvish has pitched in big games before, though none as big as what is essentially a Game 7.
Early runs: After what’s happened to this team the past few weeks, they need the bats to get going early. They’re going against Joe Saunders, who has not pitched well in Arlington in his career (0-6, 9.38 ERA in six starts). If they can get Darvish the lead and feel better about themselves, it could set things up for a win.
Defense: They’ve had too many mistakes of late, and in a game that decides it all, a solid defensive outing is needed. This is a good defensive team; they just haven’t played like it down the stretch. They must do that tonight.
Situational hitting: It’s been a problem for parts of this season and certainly in the past few weeks. Too often the club hasn’t been able to move runners over or get a runner home from third base with less than two outs. Nothing zaps energy like not executing a scoring opportunity. If the Rangers struggle with that tonight, it could hurt.
Chris Davis: The former Ranger has been on a tear of late, bashing home runs against a variety of teams. He’s likely to be fired up to play in Arlington in this kind of atmosphere. If you make a mistake to Davis these days, he makes you pay.
Bullpen: The game could come down to arms. The Orioles are one of the top clubs in the league when they have the lead after seven innings. The Rangers aren’t too shabby, either. Texas’ 'pen is banged up with Mike Adams out. Koji Uehara could be a big key tonight to help bridge the gap to closer Joe Nathan, who should be well-rested.
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.