Stats & Info: Reid Brignac

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.

Getting Defensive
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).
If you're a fan of the Tampa Bay Rays, it's been a pretty rough six months.

After losing in the ALDS to the Texas Rangers, ownership cut payroll, letting go of Carl Crawford, Carlos Pena, and just about every member of the bullpen.

Things have gone from bad to worse to open the 2011 campaign, as the Rays are 0-5 for the first time in franchise history.

They are the second team in AL history to start 0-5 after having the best record in the American League the previous season, joining the 1905 Red Sox.

While it's still early, the players tasked with replacing the departed Rays' have struggled mightily, most notably Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon.

The Rays as a whole have found it difficult at the plate. They are batting just .136, and have scored only seven runs through the first five games.

Even worse, they are hitting just .111 with runners in scoring position, with four hits in 36 at-bats. It appears the Rays’ hitters are starting to feel the pressure, especially with two strikes in the count.

According to Inside Edge, in Wednesday's loss against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, the Rays’ batters chased 62 percent of pitches out of the strike zone when there were two strikes in the count. The major-league average is 36 percent.

Things won’t get any easier for the Rays on Thursday against the Chicago White Sox as they face Edwin Jackson, who no-hit Tampa Bay last season while he was with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

On the opposite end of the spectrum from the Rays are the Texas Rangers who completed a sweep of the Seattle Mariners to improve to 6-0 this season.

It is their best start since opening a franchise-best 7-0 to start the 1996 season.

They needed to get past reigning AL Cy Young winner Felix Hernandez to do so. The Rangers scored four of its seven runs off the ace who is now 5-7 all-time in Texas.

Texas has been tearing the cover off the ball leading the majors in runs scored, and extra-base hits. More importantly though has been how well the Rangers’ starting staff has pitched early, despite the loss of Cliff Lee.

Collectively they have a 2.63 ERA through six games this season. In five of those a Rangers’ starter has produced a quality start (gone at least 6 IP, allowed 3 ER or less).

This has helped make the Rangers look pretty smart for moving Neftali Feliz back into the closers role. Oh, and by the way, Feliz has made four appearances having allowed no hits and picking up two saves.

Epic night in New York baseball

September, 14, 2010
Monday was a historic night in New York baseball. Both the New York Yankees and New York Mets played games that were scoreless through nine innings of play.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, this was the third time in New York baseball history that two New York teams played games scoreless through nine innings, not against each other, on the same day. The other combinations both involved the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants playing separate 0-0 extra-inning games (once in 1913, once in 1915).

Rays 1, Yankees 0 (11 innings)
• This matchup saw a pair AL Cy Young hopefuls (CC Sabathia and David Price) deliver in a big game. This was first game of the season in which both starting pitchers went at least eight scoreless innings, allowing three hits or fewer. It's the first time two pitchers did this in a Yankees-Rays game since 2003 (Roger Clemens and Victor Zambrano).

Reid Brignac's first career walk-off home run in the 11th inning was the latest Rays' latest walk-off home run since Evan Longoria hit a 13th-inning walk-off home run against the Boston Red Sox last August.

• The Rays have sole possession of the AL East lead for the first time since August 3.

• The Yankees have lost a season-high four games in a row and seven of their last eight overall. They have suffered three walk-off losses in their last four games. It's the first time they have suffered three walk-off losses over a four-game span since June 20-23, 1988.

• According to Elias, the last time two teams played a 1-0 extra-inning game for first place in a division this late in a season was September 17, 2002. That day the Anaheim Angels defeated the Oakland Athletics. Those teams entered the day tied for first place (94-56).

• The Mets, in a relatively insignificant game, defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates on Nick Evans' 10th-inning walk-off home run.

Other notes from around baseball:

• In the Florida Marlins 11-4 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies, Dan Uggla crushed his 30th home run of the season for the Marlins. Not only is he the first Marlins player to hit at least 30 home runs in four separate seasons, but he is also the first second baseman in MLB history to post four separate 30-HR seasons.

• Ryan Howard did not hit any of the Phillies four home runs, but he did drive in his 100th run of the season. Howard now has five consecutive 100-RBI seasons. He's the fourth Phillie since RBI became an official statistic in 1920 to post five 100-RBI seasons. He's the second to have five consecutive 100-RBI seasons, joining Chuck Klein from 1929-33.

Jay Bruce, playing for the first time since August 30, hit his 19th and 20th home runs of the season. He has four multi-HR games this season, two of them coming in his last five games. He has now hit at least 20 home runs in each of his first three seasons. He joins Frank Robinson (1956-58) as the only two Cincinnati Reds players to do this.
The New York Yankees have placed Alex Rodriguez on the disabled list. However, they improved to 11-0 without him this season with Saturday's win over the Seattle Mariners. Russell Branyan homered for the third time in his last two games and each of his last five hits have been HR. His seven career HR at the new Yankee Stadium are tied with Victor Martinez for the most by a visiting player.

Mariano Rivera notched his 25th save. It's the 14th time he's had at least 25 saves in a season, tied with Trevor Hoffman for most all-time.

Rangers ace Cliff Lee allowed a career high four HR vs the Baltimore Orioles. Seven of the 13 HR he has allowed this season have come in his two starts against Baltimore. Lee also matched his career high by allowing 8 runs and pitched fewer than six innings for the first time this season.

Josh Bell hit two HR and had five RBI batting ninth for the Orioles. He's the first Oriole to do that since 1920, when RBI became an official statistic. He's just the second batter with at least two HR and five RBI batting ninth this season, joining the Rays' Reid Brignac.

The Cubs snapped their five-game losing streak with a win over the Braves. Tommy Hanson is now 0-4 in his last 9 starts.

Brooks Conrad nearly hit his third pinch-hit grand slam of the season, but settled for a 2-run double. He now has 10 pinch-hit RBI this season with the bases loaded. That is twice as many as any other player in baseball.

The Angels defeated the Twins and rookie Peter Bourjos was the hero. He had two hits (HR, triple) and recorded a career-high four RBI in his 15th big-league game. Bourjos becomes the second player this season to have his first career HR and triple come in the same game (Starlin Castro was the other on May 7). Bourjos and Bobby Abreu hit back-to-back HR. Abreu now has 15 or more HR in 13 consecutive seasons.