Texas Rangers: American League Division Series

Rangers excited for home sweet home

October, 8, 2010
10/08/10
12:08
PM CT
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The Texas Rangers are excited to come home to Rangers Ballpark in Arlington for Saturday's Game 3, the first home playoff game in 11 years and the first time in its four playoff appearances that the club returns with a 2-0 lead in the American League Division Series.

A victory would give the Rangers their first postseason series win in 38 years in Texas.

The Rangers were 51-30 at home this season, the third-best record in the American League, just two games behind the Minnesota Twins and one game behind the New York Yankees.

"Teams realize it's tough to play in Arlington," Josh Hamilton said. "We take it to a whole new level when we're at home and have the fans behind us."

The Tampa Bay Rays, who will throw right-hander Matt Garza (15-10, 3.91 ERA) against Rangers righty Colby Lewis (12-13, 3.72 ERA), won't go down easy. They were a major-league best 47-34 on the road.

Experience matters, but how much?

October, 5, 2010
10/05/10
9:06
AM CT
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The 2008 World Series remains a very fresh memory for many of the Tampa Bay Raysand manager Joe Maddon said it even pushed his team this season after it got off to a sluggish start.

"Experience is always a good thing to have," Maddon said. "I just think with that experience our guys were more expecting this to happen."

It is true that few expected the Rangers to be here, gearing up for Wednesday afternoon's Game 1 of an American League Division Series.

But, here are they are and Rangers manager Ron Washington, a baseball lifer in his first postseason as a manager, stood firm in his conviction that his fresh-faced team would not be intimidated by the weight of the moment.

"Once we get out on the field, the first pitch is made, the first swing of the bat is made, the first defensive play is made, then it’s just baseball. That’s the message I’m sending. It’s just baseball once that happens," Washington said. "You play each day for what it is. You play each game according to what’s presented to you on that day and I think if you stay within those realms, things work out.

"Now," Washington continued, "there will be some anxious energy and that’s all it is. It won’t be because we’re afraid. It’s going to be who plays the best game on that day and that’s where our focus is."

It's not as though the Rangers are entirely playoff newbies. Game 1 starter Cliff Lee was 4-0 with a 1.56 ERA through the World Series last season with the Philadelphia Phillies. He holds the experience edge over Tampa's series-opening starter David Price. As a rookie, the 6-foot-6, hard-throwing lefty pitched 5 2/3 innings of relief in the Rays' 2008 run.

Vladimir Guerrero is making his sixth trip to the playoffs. Reliever Darren Oliver is also making his sixth trip and second with the Rangers (1996). Jeff Francoeur, who is expected to start in right field in Game 1, also has October experience.

"No doubt about it, they should set the tone, but each and every one of those other guys have a job to do also," Washington said. "But, I think if Cliff Lee goes out there and pitches a Cliff Lee-type game and Guerrero goes out and has a Guerrero-type game and Darren Oliver, who’s been in the playoffs, has a Darren Oliver-type game, then they'll put all those other guys in position to do it."

The atmosphere inside the Rangers' clubhouse prior to Monday's workout session had its trademark looseness. Catcher Matt Treanor, who is entering his first postseason and is could be behind the plate for Thursday's Game 2, said the only difference he could discern between the regular season and preparing for the postseason had nothing to do with the team or its nerves, but simply the increased number of media in the clubhouse, which mostly came to gather around batting champ and AL MVP candidate Josh Hamilton.

And that's the way Washington wants it -- business as usual -- from his young and inexperienced club.

"We're planning on keeping our routine the same," Washington said. "We’re not changing anything."

Joe Maddon: Break out the transistor radios

October, 4, 2010
10/04/10
4:47
PM CT
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The Tampa Bay Rays and Texas Rangerswill play Games 1 and 2 of their American League Division Series in the afternoon. Wednesday's opener at Tropicana Field begins slightly after 12:30 p.m. (CT) and Thursday's Game 2 is sceduled for a first pitch just after 1:30.

That could cause some complications for those of you with day jobs and all you youngsters out there in school.

Unless, Rays manager Joe Maddon said, employers and school principals take his vintage-era advice.

"Kids better bring transistor radios to school and the nuns got to let you bring the TV in to watch it in black-and-white," Maddon said. "No, really, for a couple of days like this and events like this I think you can play hooky for a couple days. I think the nuns would approve. Sister Teresa would have approved."

Maddon was asked if he'd call in sick if he'd call in sick to be in the stands.

"Absolutely you call in sick," he said. "You call in sick and show up. There's no question about that."

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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Colby Lewis
WINS ERA SO IP
10 5.18 133 170
OTHER LEADERS
BAA. Beltre .324
HRA. Beltre 19
RBIA. Beltre 77
RA. Beltre 79
OPSA. Beltre .879
ERAC. Lewis 5.18
SOY. Darvish 182