After storming out to a 2-0 lead in their ALDS clash with the Tampa Bay Rays, it quickly appeared as if the Texas Rangers had taken firm control of the series and were inevitably headed to their first American League Championship Series appearance in franchise history.
Tampa however, had their sights set on returning to the World Series, to erase the bitter disappointment of losing the 2008 Fall Classic to the Philadelphia Phillies. The Rays stormed back in Games 3 and 4 at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, evening the series at two games apiece, and setting up the decisive Game 5 match-up between the teams' aces, Cliff Lee and David Price.
The rematch of ALDS Game 1 starters pitted two of the game' s premier left-handed pitchers against one another in what promised to be quite the pitchers' duel. Game 5 didn't disappoint, as the two lefties battled for six innings, with Price being eventually touched for three runs by some timely Rangers' hitting and aggressive base-running. Lee hurled yet another complete game, limiting the potent Rays' offense to only one run on six hits and no walks, while striking out 11. Texas would add two more in the ninth to seal their 5-1 victory which would send them to their first ever ALCS.
With the Division Series now concluded, the Rangers can now look ahead and begin planning for their ALCS match-up against another AL East powerhouse, this time, the New York Yankees. During the regular season, the Yankees claimed the Wild Card by finishing 95-67, one game behind the Tampa Bay Rays in the Eastern Division race. New York's path to the ALCS began with a definitive three-game sweep of the AL Central champion Minnesota Twins, in which outscored the Twins 17-7. Displaying offensive strength, dominant pitching, and stingy defense, the Yankees easily dispatched the Twins, and their deeply experienced roster makes them a formidable foe for the Rangers in the ALCS.
Let's take a look at how the two teams stack up against one another, in a position by position analysis of the primary figures at each spot around the diamond.