Rangers Sweep Rays, Advance to ALDS

Rangers Sweep Rays
(Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)

The Texas Rangers beat the Tampa Bay Rays, 7–1, earning the AL Wild Card series sweep Wednesday afternoon at Tropicana Field. With this win, they have punched their ticket for the AL Division Series. In that series, they will be facing the AL East Champion Baltimore Orioles. This could prove to be a challenge for the Rangers. They will start that series on the road at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The first game of the ALDS will be on Saturday afternoon with first pitch scheduled for 12:03 pm Central. Both teams have yet to announce their starting pitchers for the series opener.  Before that series begins, however, we’ll take a look at what went right for the Rangers and what went wrong for the Rays in this two-game sweep.

Flashes of 2010

This isn’t the first time that the Rangers and Rays have faced each other in a playoff scenario. The last time the Rangers made a World Series run in 2010, they had to get past the Rays in the ALDS to do it. In the first two games of that series, the Rangers beat the Rays 11–1. It was eerily similar in this series, as they beat the Rays 4–0 in the first game, and 7–1 in the second game. Just like this year’s AL Wild Card series, those games in 2010 were also played at Tropicana Field. The Rangers won that series three games to two.

Seager and Carter Shine

Everything that has worked for the Rangers all season was on full display in this series. Their pitching was great, and their offense was relentless. One guy that really stood out for the Rangers in these two games was Corey Seager. Seager had two hits in each of those wins and came away from the series batting .500 (4-for-8). He hit three doubles, drove in two. He reminded everybody that it looks as if he can still do it at this time of year, because he absolutely has done it before. Seager was with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2020 when they won the World Series in Arlington, which would eventually become his new baseball home. Seager won both the NLCS MVP and the World Series MVP.

Rookie outfielder Evan Carter also had a big moment, as he chipped in with his first career home run in the post season in Game Two. Rangers third baseman Josh Jung also had a good evening in the second game. Jung went 3-for-4 with two doubles. All of these things went a long way in beating the Rays, who finished the regular season with a record of 99–63.

Dominant Pitching

Rangers left-hander Jordan Montgomery started the first game of the series, and he did not disappoint. Montgomery threw seven scoreless innings, giving up six hits in that stretch. He struck out five, and earned the win, improving to 1–0 in the postseason. Fellow lefty Aroldis Chapman took over for Montgomery in the eighth. He set the Rays down in order, striking out one. From there, Jose Leclerc came in to pitch the ninth, and put the finishing touches on the masterpiece started by Montgomery and Chapman. Leclerc gave up a walk and struck out one in his outing.

It was more of the same for the Rangers in Game Two. Nathan Eovaldi got the ball and turned in a heroic effort. He pitched 6 2/3 innings where he allowed one earned run on six hits and struck out eight. Like Montgomery before him, Eovaldi recorded his first win of the postseason. Josh Sborz relieved Eovaldi in the seventh. Sborz threw an inning and a third, striking out one. For the second night in a row, Leclerc pitched the ninth. This time, he gave up two hits and struck out two.

Errors for Everyone

Fans are most likely hoping that the Rays make fundamentals a top priority going into spring training in 2024. The Rays made a total of five errors combined in the two games of this series. It didn’t look like the Rangers needed the extra help, but they got it with the Rays’ clumsy defense. Those errors were made by first baseman Yandy Diaz, catcher Rene Pinto, shortstop Taylor Walls, outfielder Jose Siri, and second baseman Curtis Mead. At first glance, you could blame it on the harsh turf surface at Tropicana Field, but the Rays should be somewhat used to that surface. After all, they play 81 regular season games a year on it.

Their pitching didn’t help matters either. In the first game, Rays right-hander Tyler Glasnow gave up all four of the Rangers’ runs. One positive takeaway is that he didn’t give up any home runs. He also walked five, struck out eight and threw one wild pitch. Glasnow took the loss, finishing his postseason with a record of 0–1 with an ERA of 5.40. The second game was a different story, however. Righty Zach Eflin surrendered five runs, four earned, on eight hits. Two of those hits left the ballpark. In his five innings, Efflin also walked two, struck out three, and finished the postseason with a record of 0–1 with an ERA of 7.20. Left-hander Colin Poche gave up the other two runs to the Rangers. Both were earned. Poche struck out two, and finishes the postseason with an ERA of 18.00.

 

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