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ALDS Game One Preview: Texas

Series Information

Stadium – Tropicana Field plays completely opposite compared to the hitters paradise of Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Tropicana is a pitcher’s dream with a spacious center field.

Home Plate Umpires – I do not know which umpire is going to work behind home plate for game one, but the six umpires working this series are Tim Welke, Jim Wolf, Jerry Meals, Bill Miller, Jeff Kellogg, and Mike DiMuro. The crew is not half bad with Bill Miller and Tim Welke being pitcher friendly with a wide strike zone and Jeff Kellogg known to be a hitter’s friend with a smaller than average zone.

Game 1 Information

What to look for when the Rangers take the field?

Cliff Lee is getting the call for game one of the series, which is huge for the Rangers to start the series with a legitimate ace. My fellow writers, Matt Klaasen (here) and Albert Lyu (here) have each done a nice write up on what to expect from Lee. There is not much else for me to add to what they have already said.

Against the Rays this season Cliff looks like he has not had his best stuff, going 0-3 with a 4.56 ERA. Looking a little deeper, he has pitched decently by striking out 25, walking two, and not allowing any home runs in 23.2 innings.

The Rangers bullpen is adequate with Darren Oliver and Darren O’Day setting up Neftali Feliz. If the Rangers have a lead after the sixth inning, they should feel confident that the pen should hold onto it.

Defensively, the Rangers are fairly solid. The Ranger’s outfield has the 5th best UZR total for the season at +20.8 UZR. All the outfielders play above average defense with the exception being David Murphy, who is probably only league average. The infield’s UZR over the season is -5.8 UZR. The infield would have been exactly average, except for Michael Young and his -5.8 UZR. While not a great defense, the teams defense ended up as 11th overall in the league according to UZR.

What to look for when the Rangers are batting against David Price?

The Rangers have a couple of key injuries in the outfield that will effect the team. David Murphy looks like he won’t be able to go in game one, but Josh Hamilton will be back to patrol center field. It is tough to know the exact the lineup the Rangers are going to use, but here is my best SWAG using previous game information.

Andrus-SS
Young-3B
Hamilton – CF
Guerrero-DH
Cruz-LF
Kinsler-2B
Francoeur-RF
Cantu-1B
Molina-C

The order toward the bottom may be changed around, and I think Ron Washington will go with Cantu because he wants to use a right handed bat versus the left handed starter, David Price. The offense has been a strong point of the team this year. Hopefully, Hamilton can remain healthy and re-anchor the lineup after missing the past month.

Final thoughts

The Rangers are not receiving as much media love as the other teams in the playoffs and Vegas has them as the least likely American League team to win the World Series (10 to 1 odds). But the team is well rounded and, when they acquired Cliff Lee during the season, the Rangers got a much needed ace to match up against the opponent’s ace. This game is not in anyway a must win for the Rangers, but a game one victory would go a long way in helping Texas to their first ever post season series win.