This was hands down one of the most exciting series played in recent memory. Whether you are a Rays fan (they do exist right?) or Rangers fan, you were given a lot of intense postseason baseball.
We saw the coming out party of the best young pitching prospect in the game in Matt Moore. Moore dominated the Rangers in Game 1 going 7 innings allowing only 2 hits while striking out 6. He was simply dominate. He even came back in Game 4 on 3 days rest to pitch 3 innings and only made one mistake that Adrian Beltre hit out in left, but this kid is for real.
I like the Rays, underdogs are always fun, but I don’t root for them against the Rangers. Regardless of Rays fan or not, you have to be excited about what Moore will do in the future. While I hope it doesn’t come true, I did find it funny seeing all the comments in the Twitterverse about how Moore will be the best Yankee soon. Sure he will have his ups and downs, but the AL East is going to be competitive when you put Moore alongside Price and the rest of that young Rays staff. Look for more of the same from them in the future making the playoffs.
Game 2 sung a different tune with the Rangers holding on to win 8-6. The Dutch Oven, Derek Holland, pitched well but not great throwing a lot of pitches in 5 innings. However, the Ranger’s bats showed up this time and pounded Rays starter James Shields for 7 runs. Perhaps the most surprising thing was they did it without the long ball. They scored 8 runs, but only 1 came on a long ball while Tampa continued to hit the long ball with 2 more.
Ogando showed how valuable he is coming in and shutting down the Rays in the 6th overpowering them. Koji Uehara had a rough outing allowing a 3-run bomb to Longoria in the 7th that cut the lead to only 1.
But like all year the Rangers responded. Darren Oliver came in to quiet the Rays hitters setting it up for Adams and Feliz in the 8th and 9th. And Mitch Moreland came up with a huge home run to give the Rangers a little cushion.
Game 3 was more of the same with the Rangers holding on late to win. Desmond Jennings put the Rays on top in the 4th with a solo home run which also turned out to be the only hit Colby Lewis would allow. Texas responded in the 7th with a great at bat and a huge home run by Mike Napoli to put the Rangers up 2-1 over David Price. Still in the 7th Roy Hobbs himself Josh Hamilton came up with a huge hit to extend the lead to 4-1.
From there it was a matter of holding off the Rays rallies. They got a run back in the 7th off of Oliver who couldn’t find his way, but was bailed out by Ogando once again. Mike Adams struggled in the 8th with perhaps his worst outing of his career which all started with Desmond Jennings 2nd home run of the game.
It took a 4 out save from Feliz to close the door and give Texas the 2-1 lead in the series. But what shouldn’t be overlooked is how good Lewis was from the get go. Colby once again had a great outing in the postseason. This time he went 6 innings allowing only 1 hit and striking out 6 along the way. He has really stepped up huge in playoff games the past 2 years.
Game 4 was the Adrian Beltre show. Heading into the game Beltre didn’t have an extra base hit in the playoffs. After the game he not only had 3 extra-base hits but 3 home runs. Beltre hit 3 solo shots to power the Rangers past the Rays and into the ALCS. Two of the home runs came off of Rays starter Hellickson who hadn’t given up 3 home runs in a game ever, until tonight. Ian Kinsler also got to him leading off the game with a solo shot. But even after Hellickson left and phenom Matt Moore entered, Beltre wasn’t done. He touched up Moore for a solo shot as well in the 7th which proved to be the difference in the end.
Matt Harrison had a good outing going 5 innings and striking out a season high 9. Derek Holland came in to through an inning and a third out of the pen, and after pitching in the 6th and 7th innings in the previous 2 games Ogando threw a perfect 8th inning setting it up for Feliz to close it out in the 9th.
With the win the Rangers will face the winner of the Detroit/New York series which goes to a game 5 on Thursday night. I don’t think the Rangers care who they play since they seem to just go about their own business and get to work. Regardless of who it is, it should make for some great baseball.