By Evan Brunell
Rangers at Rays, 2:07 p.m. ET, Tropicana Field, TBS
|1||Ian Kinsler||2B||1||Desmond Jennings||LF|
|2||Elvls Andrus||SS||2||B.J. Upton||CF|
|3||Josh Hamilton||CF||3||Evan Longoria||3B|
|4||Michael Young||DH||4||Ben Zobrist||2B|
|5||Adrian Beltre||3B||5||Johnny Damon||DH|
|6||Mike Napoli||C||6||Kelly Shoppach||C|
|7||Nelson Cruz||RF||7||Sean Rodriguez||SS|
|8||David Murphy||LF||8||Casey Kotchman||1B|
|9||Mitch Moreland||1B||9||Matt Joyce||RF|
|Matt Harrison||LHP||Jeremy Hellickson||RHP|
Hellickson vs. Rangers: Hellickson, a rookie, has only faced Texas once, giving up two runs in six innings on Aug. 30. Due to that, only Ian Kinsler has seen him four times, most among Rangers players, and he's gone hitless. Josh Hamilton and Mike Napoli both collected two hits against Hellickson, along with Yorvit Torrealba who hasn't been seen in the lineup since Game 1. This will be the righty's first-ever postseason appearance.
Harrison vs. Rays: Harrison has just one career start against the Rays... coming all the way back in 2008 when he shut out Tampa in eight innings. He's also made three relief appearances and overall holds a 1.29 ERA against the team. Johnny Damon has collected five hits in 10 at-bats against Harrison, while Longoria is a pristine 4-for-4. Overall, current Rays are hitting .325/.438/.575 in 48 plate appearances, which certainly is at odds with his overall success against Tampa.
|Full Playoff Coverage|
- If Texas comes away with a victory, not only does the team advance to the ALCS, but it will be it's fifth straight road victory in the ALDS, all against the Rays. That will tie the Yankees' (2003-05) five straight for second-best in the division series, behind Atlanta's eight from 1995-99.
- Hellickson has one of the highest swinging-strike rates of any pitcher, plus racks up first-pitch strikes as Fangraphs notes. Why, then, has he struck out so few batters? A regression to the mean could be coming as soon as Tuesday against the Rangers.
- As the Associated Press notes, the Rays starting two rookies in a postseason series is rare, and it will be just the 10th time since 1900 it's occurred.