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.
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Play Podcast Reid Ryan joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss his new position with the Houston Astros and whether he could see his dad, Nolan, joining him there in the future.
Play Podcast ESPN MLB Insider Jayson Stark joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss if the Rangers are the best team in baseball, what makes them so good and if he thinks the team will trade Jurickson Profar.
Play Podcast Jim Bowden joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss Ron Washington's decision to send Yu Darvish to the mound for the eighth inning Thursday night and how he would handle a situation like that if he were still a GM.
Play Podcast Randy Galloway, Matt Mosley and Glenn "Stretch" Smith discuss the latest Rangers news, including the Yu Darvish-Justin Verlander matchup.
Play Podcast Nelson Cruz joins Galloway & Company to discuss the Rangers' series in Oakland, his ups and downs at the plate and if the PED talks before the season were a distraction.
Play Podcast Rangers manager Ron Washington joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett live from Oakland for his weekly visit.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway & Company to discuss his role with the Rangers. Ryan says that he has not been in contact with the Astros about a possible opening and he doesn't think that he would be interested anyway.
Play Podcast Jim Bowden joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett for his weekly visit and wastes no time sounding off on MLB umpire Angel Hernandez.