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Thursday, October 7, 2010
ALDS Game 2 Preview: Rangers at Rays


A quick look at Game 2 of the ALDS between the Texas Rangers and Tampa Bay Rays.

The Rangers are hoping their dominating Game 1 performance will carry over into Game 2. The Rangers are still the only MLB franchise that hasn't won a playoff series. They snapped a nine-game postseason losing streak, but still remain one of only three current MLB franchises to have never played in a World Series (others are Washington Nationals/Montreal Expos and the Seattle Mariners).

ShieldsFROM ELIAS SPORTS BUREAU: James Shields will start Game 2 for the Rays against the Rangers today, becoming the first pitcher to start a postseason game following a regular season in which he lost at least 15 games with an ERA above 5.00. Also, Shields was 2-11 in starts following a Rays loss this season, which was the second-worst record among pitchers with at least 15 starts following a team loss. Dave Bush was 1-8 in 17 starts immediately after a Brewers loss.

The Rangers were 7-12 with 2 HR against Shields' low fastballs this season (two starts). In Shields' first start against Texas this year, he threw 28 low fastballs, with the Rangers going 5-7 with a HR against them. He adjusted in his second start, throwing only 16 low fastballs, but the Rangers managed two hits and another HR against them. As a team, the Rangers missed just two of 19 swings against Shields' low fastballs this season.

The Rangers went just 1-23 (.043) this season against Shields in two-strike counts, but 13-32 (.406) before two strikes. Shields threw 54 two-strike pitches against Texas this year and 46 of them (85.2 pct) were offspeed. That percentage is far above Shields' season average (68.6 pct) and his highest against any team against which he started more than once.

WilsonFROM ELIAS SPORTS BUREAU: C.J. Wilson of the Rangers will be the 10th pitcher with at least 250 regular-season relief appearances at the time of his first postseason start. Of the nine previous pitchers to do so, six lasted fewer than three innings in their initial postseason start, and only one registered a victory: Scott Garrelts of the Giants in 1989. Derek Lowe was the most recent pitcher to do so, starting Game 3 of the 2003 ALDS for the Red Sox after 276 regular-season games as a reliever.

Shields has one career start with Jim Wolf behind the plate, who will be calling balls and strikes in Game 2. He went six innings, allowing two earned runs, striking out six and walking one in a loss. Wilson, on the other hand, has pitched six times with Wolf behind the plate (two starts). Both starts came this season, and he went 0-1 with a 4.91 ERA, nine K and seven BB.