This is the first non-sweep of the division series so far and the only division series to feature repeat starting pitchers.
T-4. Colby Lewis, Game 3
5 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 5 BB, 5 K, +.240 WPA
At the risk of offending Carson, it’s hard for me to say that Lewis pitched too well in game 3, mainly because of the five walks and seven total baserunners in only five innings. However, one can’t argue with the run total, and it’s because of the shutout innings in a tight game – 1-0 Rangers at the time of his exit – that Lewis received a +.240 WPA for his efforts.
T-4. C.J. Wilson, Game 2
6.1 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 7 K, 2 BB, +.240 WPA
This was a pretty fantastic start, but it gets overshadowed partly by the fact that the Rangers scored five runs behind Wilson and more by the fact that it followed the ridiculous starts by Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay, and Tim Lincecum. 6.1 scoreless innings with the stuff Wilson showed in this start deserves more credit than it received.
3. Carlos Pena, Game 3
2-3, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, 2 BB, +.256 WPA
Pena struggled mightily against Cliff Lee in game 1 and didn’t see the field at all in game 2. The first baseman broke out in game three, reaching base four times, including a game tying RBI single off Darren Oliver in the seventh and then a two run homer in the ninth to put the Rays up four and knock the Rangers’ win expectancy all the way down to 2.0%.
2. Cliff Lee, Game 1
7 IP, 5 H, 1 HR, 1 R, 10 K, 0 BB, +.260 WPA
The first start of the postseason now seems pedestrian for Lee. The Rangers’ ace baffled the Rays for seven innings, with the only damage coming on a Ben Zobrist home run. As the Rangers managed to chip away off of David Price, scoring five runs by the time Lee left the game, Lee’s WPA isn’t terribly impressive, but don’t let that take away from this start.
1. Cliff Lee, Game 5
9 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 11 K, 0 BB, +.477 WPA
Take all the greatness of Lee’s first start. Now add two innings, a strikeout, and turn the run from a homer to one that the Rays were forced to manufacture. Finally, throw in that it clinched the Rangers’ first playoff series victory ever in a game that was played within two runs for the first eight innings, and you have easily the biggest performance of this ALDS.
T-5. Nelson Cruz, Game 3
1-4, HR, R, RBI, GIDP, -.142 WPA
Cruz’s home run was utterly meaningless, as it was a solo shot with the Rangers down 6-2 in the ninth inning (+.012 WPA) Far more important were his GIDP in the third inning with a 1-0 lead (-.072 WPA) and his inning ending lineout to SS in the sixth (-.065 WPA).
T-5. Darren Oliver, Game 3
1.1 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 3 K, -.142 WPA
Oliver’s first inning went easily enough, as he worked around a Ben Zobrist double for a scoreless seventh. However, the Rays tagged the lefty in the eighth, as Dan Johnson roped a double off the wall and then Carlos Pena singled home the pinch runner Desmond Jennings. That allowed the Rays to get back into the game; when Oliver left, the Rays win expectancy was 50.1%.
4. Chad Qualls, Game 2
.1 IP, 4 H, 1 HR, 2 ER -.185 WPA
Qualls was thrust right into the fire in game two, replacing James Shields with two runners on. It appeared that Qualls had induced a swinging strikeout against Michael Young, but the umpires ruled that Young checked his swing. Young then proceeded to blast a three run home run that basically put the Rangers up for good, giving them a five run lead. Qualls couldn’t get anybody out after that either, ending with the four hits allowed in only a third of an inning.
3. Carl Crawford, Game 5
0-4, -.186 WPA
Crawford simply couldn’t produce in his last game as a member of the Tampa Bay Rays. He reached on two fielder’s choices, but each resulted in the force of the lead runner, once at second (-.030 WPA) and once, with two in scoring position in a tie game, at home plate (-.101 WPA).
2. David Price, Game 1
6.2 IP, 9 H, 2 HR, 4 R, 8 K, -.203
Price was dominant at times during his game one start, as evidenced by his eight strikeouts. However, the Rangers bats were able to get to Price for some big blasts, particularly including home runs by Bengie Molina and Nelson Cruz. With Cliff Lee dominating the Rays, the four runs given up by Price were even more costly, as the Rays had a huge hole to dig out of by the time Price left the game.
1. Neftali Feliz, Game 3
.1 IP, 2 H, 1 HR, 1 R, 1 BB
Ron Washington was scolded by many for not going to Netali Feliz in an important but non-save situation in game 1 of the ALCS. He did just that in the eighth inning of game 3, putting in Feliz with two outs and a runner on first in a tie game. Feliz couldn’t get the job done, though, as he walked Jason Bartlett and then allowed the go-ahead single off the bat of fellow rookie John Jaso. Feliz managed to finish the inning without allowing any more runs, but Carl Crawford chased him after opening the Rays’ half of the ninth with a solo home run. Feliz left the Rangers with a mere 8.2% win expectancy.
Hitter: Ian Kinsler
8-18, 3 HR, 5 R, 6 RBI, 2 BB, +.451 WPA
Kinsler’s three home runs were key for the Rangers. His game two home run gave the Rangers a two run cushion against James Shields. In game three, Kinsler’s home run gave the Rangers a one run lead in the seventh inning and an inside track in a game that would eventually be blown by Neftali Feliz. In game five, his home run off Rafael Soriano in the ninth inning effectively dashed all hopes for the Rays.
Pitcher: Cliff Lee
16 IP, 11 H, 1 HR, 2 R, 21 K, 0 BB, +.737 WPA
Was there any question? His performances, as described above, were transcendent.
Hitter: Carl Crawford
3-21, HR, R, RBI, SB, 4 K, 0 BB, -.363 WPA
Crawford just was a non-factor in this series outside of his game three home run. It’s not that he was unclutch – he had a pLI under 1.0 in this series – he just couldn’t find a way to get on base. It’s unfortunate that his fantastic Rays’ career had to end this way, and Rays fans shouldn’t allow this series to be a legacy for Crawford.
Pitcher: Neftali Feliz
1.1 IP, 2 H, 1 HR, 1 R, 2 K, 3 BB, -.301 WPA
This was a pretty well pitched series for the most part, but young closer Neftali Feliz received only one high-leverage appearance and was poor in it, posting the worst game by WPA in the entire series, as detailed above.