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ALDS Game 1: Rays at Rangers

Sep 30, 2011, 8:30 PM EDT

US Presswire photo
Michael Young and Mike Napoli lead the Rangers into the playoffs.

After the wildest final day of the regular season baseball has ever experienced, the postseason begins tonight. And it's only fitting one of the first teams on the field is the one that pulled off the most dramatic comeback to get here. The Tampa Bay Rays did the unthinkable Wednesday night, storming back from a 7-0 deficit to tie the New York Yankees with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, then winning in the bottom of the 12th on Evan Longoria's walk-off homer.

The Rays arrived in Texas flying high, but they can't live in the past. They're facing a daunting challenge in the defending AL champs, who knocked them out in the Division Series last fall. Rangers manager Ron Washington has his rotation lined up exactly how he wants it, with lefty C.J. Wilson on the mound for Game 1 tonight. Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon, meanwhile, is taking a bold risk: Rookie Matt Moore, the organization's top prospect, will make only his second career start tonight.

How will this all play out? Scroll down for my series prediction…

AL DIVISION SERIES – GAME 1
TAMPA BAY RAYS at TEXAS RANGERS
Where: Rangers Ballpark in Arlington
Gametime: 5:07 p.m.
TV: TBS
Radio: WSPZ (570 AM), XM 181
Weather: Sunny, 84 degrees, Wind 12 mph LF to RF

STARTING LINEUPS
RAYS
SS Sean Rodriguez
CF B.J. Upton
3B Evan Longoria
2B Ben Zobrist

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  1. MicheleS - Sep 30, 2011 at 9:46 PM

    Hmmm.. CJ Wilson gives up 3 runs, maybe we don't want him …. ;-)

  2. Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 30, 2011 at 9:51 PM

    Wow. Just saw this: Boston will not be exercising their option on manager Terry Francona.

  3. Slidell - Sep 30, 2011 at 10:01 PM

    6-0 Rays in the 3rd.

  4. Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 30, 2011 at 10:03 PM

    Wow, was that a fan running on the batters eye grass making a nice catch on Shoppach's home run? AND throwing it right back in! I bet they let him stay, too!

  5. Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 30, 2011 at 10:05 PM

    They did!

  6. Just wonderin' - Sep 30, 2011 at 10:20 PM

    So, does Riggleman get an interview for the Boston job?

  7. baseballswami - Sep 30, 2011 at 10:49 PM

    So – does Francona get an interview with the Nats????? How awesome would that be?

  8. Eugene in Oregon - Sep 30, 2011 at 11:01 PM

    This is a lot less exciting than Wednesday night was…at least so far.

  9. baseballswami - Sep 30, 2011 at 11:13 PM

    Maybe I am just slow or something, but I just realized that the Upton brothers could play against each other in the world series. Has that ever happened before? The Rays are just kicking a!@##$$!

  10. Eugene in Oregon - Sep 30, 2011 at 11:17 PM

    baseballswami said…So – does Francona get an interview with the Nats????? How awesome would that be?————-I've got to believe he'll end up with the White Sox.******************baseballswami said…Maybe I am just slow or something, but I just realized that the Upton brothers could play against each other in the world series. Has that ever happened before?———————–At a minimum, the Boyers played against in the 1964 World Series — Ken for the Cardinals, Clete for the Yankees.

  11. dryw - Sep 30, 2011 at 11:30 PM

    From the sound of things on mlb.com, the decision was at least as much Francona's as it was Epstein's. It didn't sound like it was just spin, either.

  12. baseballswami - Sep 30, 2011 at 11:39 PM

    I think you are correct about the White Sox. Maybe the Marlins wish they had waited a few days…

  13. Anonymous - Sep 30, 2011 at 11:41 PM

    CJ Wilson's price tag going down? And – tell me again why this network has championship baseball? Dreck. The one guys is extremely pro-Rangers and also talks about the Yankees so much you would think they were playing in this game.

  14. Eugene in Oregon - Sep 30, 2011 at 11:57 PM

    Slow game, so you get a bit more on the brothers-against-each-other-in-a-World Series question (from a 2008 NYT article):"Three sets of brothers have played against each other in the same [World] Series: Jimmy Johnston (third base, Brooklyn) and Doc Johnston (first base, Cleveland) in 1920, Bob Meusel (right field, Yankees) and Irish Meusel (left field, Giants) in 1921, and Ken Boyer (third base, St. Louis) and Clete Boyer (third base, Yankees) in 1964."

  15. The Great Unwashed - Oct 1, 2011 at 1:07 AM

    Francona was the scapegoat for a team that had many injuries and underperformed. Having said that, I don't see him coming to Washington. For starters, the Nats payroll is what, 1/3 of the Red Sox? And Francona was due $4 million had his option been picked up. That's a pretty big culture shock. Sorry, I don't see it happening here. Of course, I've been wrong before.

  16. Oldguy - Oct 1, 2011 at 1:53 AM

    Francona is almost certainly going to the White Sox. He was in their system before and has good contacts there. It was clear from his comments that he thought it was time to leave Boston. The pressure there is extraordinary, and at one point he said, "I've had enough." He didn't specify, but it was clear from the context that he's had enough of Boston. That said, I think he'd be a good fit here, because in important ways his good teams were like ours–in terms of internal cohesion and spirit. That's what Boston lacked. But he was no scapegoat. Theo made that clear more than once: "Nobody is blaming Tito."

  17. Anonymous - Oct 1, 2011 at 2:16 AM

    First day of the playoffs pretty boring so far – Wednesday was much more exciting!

  18. JaneB - Oct 1, 2011 at 2:26 AM

    I'm rooting for Tampa and the Tigers. SO far so good…

  19. natsfan1a - Oct 1, 2011 at 2:28 AM

    Yay! Rays win. Did a "speed watch" of the reply on the RecordMan thingy. That Moore kid did okay for himself. Touching first pitch ceremony, too.sec3, I thought of you when I saw that. :-)Sec 3, My Sofa said… Wow, was that a fan running on the batters eye grass making a nice catch on Shoppach's home run? AND throwing it right back in! I bet they let him stay, too! September 30, 2011 6:03 PM

  20. natsfan1a - Oct 1, 2011 at 2:28 AM

    Me, too, Jane.

  21. natsfan1a - Oct 1, 2011 at 2:30 AM

    p.s. Thanks for doing the postseason game threads again, Mark.

  22. FS - Oct 1, 2011 at 2:35 AM

    okay? come one 1a. Don't you think a rookie n his second career start, shutting out the best offense in AL for seven innings deserve more credit?Anyways, I saw the whole game and was very impressed with how Matt pitched. With Shields, Price, and Hellickson to come up, Rays look like the favorite right now.

  23. Gonat - Oct 1, 2011 at 2:56 AM

    CJ Wilson and his 2.94 ERA definitely dropped his stock. His ERC (Component ERA) was slightly higher than Jordan Zimmerman and CJ Wilson's WHIP was higher also.Wilson's WHIP was 1.19 compared to JZim at 1.15.I stated before that he has ACE numbers but most focus on that 16-7 W/L record and not the numbers that go into it which is the great run support that Wilson gets.Wilson really only has 2 seasons as a starter and will be 31 years old in 45 days.Wilson is now 1-3 in Post Season games.

  24. Gonat - Oct 1, 2011 at 3:10 AM

    I saw Matt Moore pitch in AAA game and he looked great. Here is something you rarely see within a season. Moore did well in AA 2.20 ERA and got promoted to AAA in the summer and the pitching coach changed his mechanics and Moore's ERA improves to 1.37. Moore improved to #'s where he was unhittable and .Originally they brought him up to get a taste of the Majors as nobody thought they were going to Post-Season. Moore pitched in a relief role and then the Rays looked like they could make a move. They give Moore his 1st start over a week ago against the Yankees and he throws 5 innings of no run baseball.What is this magic the Rays are doing in their AAA? Jeremy Hellickson has Ace stuff also. The Rays HAVE pitching!

  25. sjm308 - Oct 1, 2011 at 4:33 AM

    Interesting comments on the number of innings that Moore has pitched this year. He had a pitch limit of 160 and went over that tonight. Will they throw him again if needed? And what if the Rays move on?I also wonder how we will treat SS if we are in the same sort of position next year.

  26. NatsJack in Florida - Oct 1, 2011 at 10:33 AM

    sjm308…..major difference between Moore and Strasburg…. Moore''s not coming off TJ surgery.

  27. natsfan1a - Oct 1, 2011 at 11:33 AM

    a. I am rooting for the Rays.b. How was I not giving the kid credit?c. What-ever.FS said… okay? come one 1a. Don't you think a rookie n his second career start, shutting out the best offense in AL for seven innings deserve more credit?

  28. FS - Oct 1, 2011 at 1:11 PM

    I was just saying that he did better than 'okay', 1a. That's all.I am also rooting for Rays.Off the topic, I hope Yankees trade Gardner to us in the offseason.

  29. sjm308 - Oct 1, 2011 at 1:12 PM

    good point natsjack but it still will be interesting to see if we have the discipline to shut him down. my point was the Rays had talked about shutting Moore down when they were still 3 or 4 games out of the playoff hunt but when things got exciting and he was lights out against the Yankees they suddenly forgot all about that magic shut down innings number. I don't think this has injury ramifications like SS would but its interesting to see that other managers say one thing and do another just like here.On one other point, how is the instructional league looking?

  30. natsfan1a - Oct 1, 2011 at 1:17 PM

    FS, agreed. My comment was made in light of the fact that some had questioned Maddon's decision to start him. Go, Maddon! Go, RAYS!!

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
WASHINGTON 58 47 --
ATLANTA 58 50 1.5
MIAMI 53 54 6.0
NEW YORK 52 56 7.5
PHILADELPHIA 47 61 12.5
Through Wednesday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
THU: Phillies at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
FRI: Phillies at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
SAT: Phillies at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
SUN: Phillies at Nats, 1:35 p.m.
MON: Orioles at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
TUE: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
WED: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
Full season schedule

Mark joins Rob Carlin and Joe Orsulak every Thursday at 4 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet for a half-hour show on the Nats, Orioles and rest of MLB. Re-airs Thursdays at 11:30 p.m., Saturdays at 9 a.m. and Sundays at 11:30 a.m.

ON THE RADIO

As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2014 schedule (subject to change)...

MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.

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