Not that the Texas Rangers are taking tonight’s series-ender lightly, but it is easy to look ahead to their upcoming road trip to Cleveland after Yu Darvish’s dominating performance last night. Nothing like a thrilling, 1-0 win against a very good A.L. East team to get the confidence levels soaring…
Here’s a look at tonight’s lineup, as the Rangers bid adieu to their postseason rivals.
Tampa Bay Rays (70-59)
LF Desmond Jennings
CF B.J. Upton
SS Ben Zobrist
DH Evan Longoria
1B Jeff Keppinger
2B Ryan Roberts
3B Elliot Johnson
C Jose Molina
RF Sam Fuld
LHP Matt Harrison (15-7, 3.04 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 5.4 K/9, 2.6 BB/9)
Harrison has quietly and efficiently been the Rangers’ most reliable starter all season long. Simply put, the 6’4″ left-hander has continued to build on his success from a season ago and is paving the way to true “ace-dom.”
At home this season, Harrison has been sharp. He’s 5-3 with a 3.02 ERA. Although right-handers have touched him up with 11 home runs and a slash line of: .269/.328/.417, left-handers are practically out before they ever step into the batter’s box: .186/.216/.261 with just two long balls.
Harrison will be looking for a measure of atonement tonight as the Rays roughed him up in his only start against them this season. It was back on April 27, and Harri lasted just five innings and was blasted for 14 hits while surrendering six earned runs.
Texas Rangers (77-52)
DH Ian Kinsler
SS Elvis Andrus
CF Josh Hamilton
3B Adrian Beltre
RF Nelson Cruz
2B Michael Young
LF David Murphy
1B Mitch Moreland
C Luis Martinez
RHP Alex Cobb (8-8, 4.32 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 6.7 K/9, 2.5 BB/9)
Cobb, a Boston, Massachusetts native, is coming off of the best start of his young career. Last week in Oakland, he pitched the first complete game as he blanked the Athletics with eight strikeouts while allowing just two hits and two walks over nine innings.
The 6′ 2″ right-hander was bombed in his previous start against the Angels, surrendering eight earned runs on a whopping 14 hits.
Tonight will be the first time that Cobb has faced the Rangers since last season. He’s 4-3 with a 5.26 ERA on the road and has held the Rangers to a triple-slash line of: .176/.263/.176 in his career.
Right-handers hit him to the tune of: .295/.337/.410 with three home runs, and left-handers go: .253/.319/.371, also with three home runs.
Ian Kinsler and the red-hot Adrian Beltre have had the most success against Cobb, as they have driven in two and have a combined batting average of .333.
• This is the second straight start that Matt Harrison will throw to Luis Martinez. Ron Washington has shown a lot of faith in Martinez’s ability to call a quality game.
• Michael Young gets the start at second base for the first time since August 2, against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
• The A.L. West is currently the only division in Major League Baseball where all teams have a positive run differential. Thus, the argument can be made that it is the strongest division in baseball. This is just another way to celebrate the greatness that is the Texas Rangers.