AP Photo/Patrick Semansky
Matt Moore makes his second career start against the Rangers in Game 1 of the ALDS.
Just two days removed from completing the greatest September rally in MLB history, the Tampa Bay Rays look to build on their strong finish against the Texas Rangers in the American League Division Series.
Inside the Series
This is a rematch of last year’s ALDS, a series Texas won in five games. The series was unique in that it was the first in postseason history where the road team won every game.
The Rangers edged the Rays during the regular season, taking five of the nine meetings.
Rangers catcher Mike Napoli proved a particularly tough out against Tampa Bay this season, batting .407 with three home runs.
On the Mound
Taking the mound for the Rays will be left-hander Matt Moore, a September call-up who began this season as the top pitching prospect in all of baseball.
Moore has made only one career start (with two appearances out of the bullpen), going 5.0 innings while allowing no runs on four hits, 1 walk and 11 strikeouts against the New York Yankees on Sept. 22 at Yankee Stadium.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Moore’s one career start is the fewest by a Game 1 starter in MLB postseason history.
Texas brings its own lefty to the mound in Game 1, sending C.J. Wilson to the hill. Wilson’s 2.56 ERA after the All-Star Break was second-best in the AL, behind Doug Fister (2.47). He had a 1.21 ERA in September and is 4-0 as a starter in his career against the Rays, combining regular season and the playoffs.
These teams ranked in the top four in the majors in Defensive Runs Saved this season – Tampa Bay was first, Texas was fourth. The strengths of these teams defensively have come at second, short and third base.
Ben Zobrist (17) and Ian Kinsler (16) ranked 1-2 in MLB in Defensive Runs Saved at second base. Elvis Andrus (13) ranked third in the majors, Elliot Johnson (11) ranked tied for fifth and Reid Brignac (8) tied for seventh among shortstops. Among third basemen, Adrian Beltre (17) ranked second in the majors and Evan Longoria (12) was fifth.
Stat of the Game
While the Rays dominated headlines for their late-season surge, they aren’t the only team in this series coming off a noteworthy September. The Rangers closed the book on the regular season with a .544 slugging percentage in September, the highest slugging percentage by a team in September in the live-ball era (since 1920).