AL Wild Card Schedule 2013: Full Preview and Predictions
Let the postseason begin! Sort of. The Tampa Bay Rays and Texas Rangers will hold up the start of the official start of the postseason as the two play a 163rd game. Apparently, 162 games wasn't enough to determine which of the two deserved the final American League wild-card position.
The Rays and Rangers are tied at 91-71 for the season, which is one game behind the 92-70 Indians.
The winner of that extra battle will then move on to face the Cleveland Indians for the win-or-go-home Wild Card Game on Wednesday night.
Obviously, all of this is going to pack the baseball drama into the coming days, and that drama is already in full gear.
Matchup: Tampa Bay Rays vs. Texas Rangers
Where: Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Texas
When: Monday, Sept. 30, at 8:07 p.m. ET
Probable Starters: David Price (9-8) vs. Martin Perez (10-5)
The Rays will be looking for a little payback in this game. Texas beat the Rays in the division series in 2010 and 2011.
The Rays certainly have momentum. They have won eight of their last 10 games and will be flying high entering the playoffs.
Meanwhile, the Rangers enter this game after a roller coaster of a season.
In late August, the Rangers had a 3.5 game lead in the American League West. However, the pesky Oakland Athletics overtook them, and Texas spent most of the stretch run trailing in the wild-card race.
The Rangers then closed the season by winning seven straight to force this playoff.
Prediction: Rays 4, Rangers 2
I love the Rangers' momentum. However, David Price is going to rise to the occasion in this start. He has the experience and the stuff. Price was in solid form to close out the year. In his last four starts, he has gone 26.1 innings and allowed eight runs (all earned).
Don't be surprised to see former Cy Young winner Price author one of his best outings of the season.
Wild Card Game
Matchup: Cleveland Indians vs. winner of Tampa Bay vs. Texas
When: Wednesday, Oct. 7, at 8:07 p.m. ET
Where: Progressive Field, Cleveland, Ohio
The Indians went on a wild run to close out the season and earn this spot. The Tribe won their last 10 games. However, none of those wins came against winning teams.
Still, Cleveland will enjoy a rested pitching staff and home field for this game. That will certainly have its perks, but it is not without its drawbacks.
Prediction: Rays 6, Indians 2
Baseball is a game of rhythm. Over 162 games, players become creatures of habit. This is going to leave the Rays (or Rangers if they defy my prediction) with a sense of routine that will trump the extra rest of the Indians. This will lead to hotter bats, and that will carry to victory.
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