Posted: Thursday September 29, 2011 11:47 PM

A capsule look at the Rays-Rangers playoff series

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A look at the best-of-five American League division series between the Tampa Bay Rays and Texas Rangers:

Schedule: (All times EDT) Game 1, Friday, at Arlington, Texas (5:07 p.m.); Game 2, Saturday, at Arlington, Texas (7:07 p.m.); Game 3, Monday, at St. Petersburg, Fla. (5:07 p.m.); x-Game 4, Tuesday, at St. Petersburg, Fla. (TBA); x-Game 5, Thursday, at Arlington, Texas (TBA). (All games on TBS or TNT).

x-if necessary.

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Season Series: Rangers won 5-4.

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Projected Lineups:

Rays: LF Desmond Jennings (.259, 10 HRs, 25 RBIs, 20 SBs in 63 games since being promoted from Triple-A Durham), CF B.J. Upton (.243, 23, 81, 36 SBs), 3B Evan Longoria (.244, 31, 99), 2B Ben Zobrist (.269, 20, 91), DH Johnny Damon (.261, 16, 73), RF Matt Joyce (.277, 19, 75), 1B Casey Kotchman (.306, 10, 48), C Kelly Shoppach (.176, 11, 22), SS Reid Brignac (.193, 1, 15).

Rangers: 2B Ian Kinsler (.255, 32, 77, 121 runs, 30 SBs), SS Elvis Andrus (.279, 5, 60, 96 runs, 37 SBs), CF Josh Hamilton (.298, 25, 94 in 121 games), DH Michael Young (career-high .338, 11, 106 with 213 hits), 3B Adrian Beltre (.296, 32, 105), C Mike Napoli (career highs .320, 30, 75 in 113 games), RF Nelson Cruz (.263, 29, 87 in 124 games), LF David Murphy (.275, 11, 46), 1B Mitch Moreland (.259, 16, 51).

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Projected Rotations:

Rays: LH Matt Moore (1-0, 2.89 ERA, 3 games, 1 start since being promoted from minors), RH James Shields (16-12, 2.82, 249 1-3 IP, 11 CGs, 225 Ks), LH David Price (12-13, 3.49, 224 1-3 IP, 218 Ks), RH Jeremy Hellickson (13-10, 2.95, 189 IP).

Rangers: LH C.J. Wilson (16-7, 2.94 ERA, career-high 223 1-3 IP, 206 Ks, 74 walks), LH Derek Holland (16-5, 3.95, 4 shutouts; 10-1 with 2.77 ERA in last 15 starts), RH Colby Lewis (14-10, 4.40), LH Matt Harrison (14-9, 3.39).

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Relievers:

Rays: RH Kyle Farnsworth (5-1, 2.18, 25/31 saves, 63 games, 45 hits in 57 2-3 IP), RH Joel Peralta (3-4, 2.93, 71 games), LH J.P. Howell (2-3, 6.16, 46 games), RH Brandon Gomes (2-1, 2.92, 40 games), LH Cesar Ramos (0-1, 3.92, 59 games), LH Jake McGee (5-2, 4.50, 37 games), RH Wade Davis (11-10, 4.45 ERA, 184 IP), RH Jeff Niemann (11-7, 4.06, 135 1-3 IP), RH Juan Cruz (5-0, 3.88, 56 games).

Rangers: RH Neftali Feliz (2-3, 2.74, 32/38 saves), RH Mike Adams (2-3, 2.10, 1 save in 27 games for Rangers; 3-1, 1.13 in 48 appearances for Padres), RH Koji Uehara (2-3, 2.35 in 65 games for Rangers and Orioles), LH Darren Oliver (5-5, 2.29, 61 games), RH Scott Feldman (2-1, 3.94 in 11 games, 2 starts, since return from microfracture surgery on right knee), RH Alexi Ogando (13-8, 3.51 in 31 games, 29 starts, for converted reliever who returns to bullpen for postseason), LH Michael Gonzalez (2-2, 4.39 in 56 games for Rangers and Orioles).

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Matchups:

The Rangers were the only current franchise in the majors that had never won a postseason series before beating Tampa Bay in the ALDS last season. The visiting team won all five games, a first for a postseason series. ... Texas outscored the Rays 16-2 in the three wins at Tampa Bay. ... Kinsler and Cruz both hit three homers in the ALDS, the only teammates other than Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig in the 1928 World Series to have three homers in a postseason series of five games or less. ... Texas then beat the Yankees in a six-game AL championship series before losing to San Francisco in the World Series in five games. ... Texas is looking for the chance to win the World Series a year after losing it. That has happened 12 times, the last being Oakland (1988-89). The Yankees have done it seven times. ... Texas is already the first AL team since the Yankees in 2004 to win a division title the year after losing the World Series. ... The Rays and Rangers played six games in the past month, each winning three times with neither taking consecutive games. Two of the Texas victories in that stretch were shutouts, including Wilson's first career shutout Sept. 6 at Tampa Bay. ... Texas batted .263 with 41 runs in the nine games against Tampa Bay this season. The Rays hit only .182 with 26 runs. ... Napoli hit .407 with three homers and seven RBIs in seven games against the Rays. ... Hamilton is a .229 career hitter with four homers in 28 career games vs. Tampa Bay, which made him the No. 1 overall pick in the 1999 draft. ... Wilson, declared the starter for the playoff opener long before the Rangers knew who they were playing, threw 6 1-3 scoreless innings against the Rays in Game 2 of last year's series. ... Texas hasn't lost consecutive games since dropping three in a row to Boston from Aug. 23-25. ... Scrambling for a rested starter in the opener, the Rays are turning to a top prospect in Moore despite his lack of experience. The 22-year-old lefty, called up from the minors in September, struck out 11 over five scorele ss innings to win his first major league start last week at Yankee Stadium. ... Upton was swinging Tampa Bay's hottest bat down the stretch, batting .356 (31 for 87) with 14 extra-base hits, 15 RBIs, 17 walks and 8 steals over 23 games after being moved into the No. 2 hole. He finished with 23 homers and 35 stolen bases. ... Longoria hit 20 home runs after the All-Star break. Since June 20, he leads the majors with 80 RBIs. ... The Rays have won 30 consecutive games in which they've scored at least five runs, the longest streak in the majors this season. ... Price lost twice to the Rangers in last year's ALDS. The left-hander has struggled of late, going 0-3 over six starts in September. It's the first month he's gone without a win since joining Tampa Bay's rotation in 2009. ... Jennings was hitless in his last 24 at-bats during the regular season.

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Big Picture:

Rays: In the playoffs for the third time in four seasons despite a tiny payroll, manager Joe Maddon and the Rays (91-71) thrive on strong starting pitching and solid defense. They trailed Boston by nine games in the AL wild-card standings on Sept. 4 and went 15-7 the rest of the way to become the first team to overcome that big a deficit in September and earn a postseason spot. When they pulled even with two games remaining, it was the first time since May 23 that they had shared or had sole possession of the wild-card lead since May 23, a stretch of 125 days. ... It was a frantic finish to the season, too. Trailing 7-0 against the Yankees in Wednesday night's finale, the Rays scored six times in the eighth inning. Down to their last strike in the ninth, they got a pinch-hit homer from Dan Johnson to tie it. Then, just minutes after Boston blew a ninth-inning lead and lost in Baltimore, Longoria hit his second homer of the night to send the delirious Rays to the playoffs. ... Longoria struggled after missing 26 games in April and early May with a strained oblique muscle, but he's carried the Rays offensively of late. He has 113 homers and 401 RBIs since 2008, becoming the 13th player since 1900 to hit at least 100 homers and drive in 400 runs in his first four seasons. ... The Rays' 91 wins are the most by a team that started a season 1-8. Among 78 teams that have lost eight of their first nine games to begin a season, only the Rays and 1995 Reds rebounded to make the playoffs. ... The Rays committed the fewest errors in the majors with 73. ... Rays starting pitchers posted a club-record and AL-best 3.58 ERA. The team's starters worked 1,058 innings, most in the AL since the 2005 White Sox (1,074). Every game this season was started by a pitcher drafted and developed by the Rays. The team's talented rotation is young, too. Tampa Bay has used a starting pitcher under age 30 in a major league-record 764 consecutive games.

Rangers: Texas set a franchise record with 96 victories and won its second consecutive AL West title after more than a decade out of the playoffs. This is the Rangers' fifth time in the postseason, all as division winners (1996, 1998, 1999, 2010, 2011). ... Texas finished the regular season winning its last six games, and 14 of 16, to hold off Detroit for home-field advantage in the division series. ... The Rangers have increased their win total each year under manager Ron Washington, who is in his fifth season. ... After going to their first World Series last season and then losing Cliff Lee in free agency when the ace left-hander went back to Philadelphia, the Rangers bulked up their offense with the additions of Napoli in a trade and free-agent Beltre, who chose Texas over the Angels. ... Napoli ended the regular season with consecutive two-homer games at Los Angeles, where he had previously played. ... Beltre, who missed six weeks with a strained left hamstring, hit 12 homers in the last 16 games. ... The Rangers had three players with 30 homers (Kinsler, Beltre and Napoli) for the first time since 1999 (Ivan Rodriguez, Juan Gonzalez and Rafael Palmeiro). ... Young, the longest-tenured Rangers player, requested a trade last winter after Beltre joined the team. Young played 3B the past two seasons after previously being a shortstop and second baseman for Texas. Napoli was a catcher who also played first base and DH, the two spots expected for Young after Beltre signed. Once he got to spring training, Young put his focus on the field and in his 11th season hit a career-best .338 splitting time as a DH and in the field. ... After being the AL MVP last season, Hamilton was only a dozen days into the new season when he sustained a non-displaced fracture at the top of his right arm when he tried to score with a daring dash on a foul popup at Detroit. He was out six weeks. ... The Rangers were already in first place to stay when Hamilton and Cruz (strained right quadriceps) returned to the lineup May 23. ... Texa s led the majors with a .283 batting average, was second with 210 homers and third with 855 runs. ... The Rangers' 3.79 ERA was their lowest since the club-record 3.31 in 1983. ... The staff had 1,179 strikeouts, two off the club record set last year, and the 461 walks were the fewest in a full season since 1978.

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Watch For:

- Big Game James. A first-time All-Star and the team MVP, Shields lived up to his nickname all season. He came within one out of his 12th complete game in his final regular-season start and is lined up to pitch Game 2 and Game 5 in this series on full rest.

- Leaning Left. With Wilson, Holland and Harrison, the Rangers have gotten a franchise-record 46 wins from left-handed starters. That's the most in the majors since the 1997 Seattle Mariners had 52. Wilson's 16 wins were one more than he had last season in his transition from reliever to starter. Holland worked out of the bullpen last postseason, and in his World Series debut threw 11 consecutive balls. Harrison was left off the postseason roster last year after being primarily a reliever.

- Zorilla. Zobrist, a versatile and underrated player, homered in five of his last 11 games. Five of his last 10 hits have been home runs.

- Multiple Michael. Young adapted to his new role and had a team-high 159 starts, the ninth time in 10 seasons he played at least 155 games. This time, he started 69 games as the DH, 39 at third base, 36 at first, 14 at second and one at shortstop. He became the only player to have at least 200 hits (213) while playing 35 games or more at three different positions during the season. Before last year, Young had played 1,508 regular-season games without getting into the playoffs. This year, Game 1 of the World Series is scheduled for Oct. 19, his 35th birthday.

- Colby On The Road. Lewis was 3-0 with a 1.71 ERA in four postseason starts last fall, all at Rangers Ballpark. He threw five scoreless innings in his no-decision and won the AL pennant-clinching game. This year, Lewis has been more effective on the road, going 9-5 with a 3.43 ERA, 107 Ks and 27 walks in 107 2-3 innings.

 
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