ALDS Schedule 2011: Why Texas Rangers Face Trouble in Tampa Bay Rays
You're trailing 7-0 to the New York Yankees in the eighth inning of a game that will decide whether or not you reach the postseason. The team you're tied with for the Wild Card lead is leading late in their own contest, and there are no tomorrows left in the regular season.
What do you do?
If you're the Tampa Bay Rays, you score six runs in that eighth inning, and then you send a guy hitting .108 to the plate when you're down to what looks like it could be the last out of your season.
Then, down to his final strike, Mr. .108-Batting Average drills a game-tying home run over the right field wall.
But you're not done yet. Your thirst for October baseball hasn't been quenched and your drive just will not die. In the 12th inning, your star, the man who can carry your club when it's down and out, steps up again.
Already having hit the three-run shot that brought your club to within one run back in the eighth, he hits a laser that just clears the wall in the left field corner.
It's over. You've done it. The Red Sox lost, and you're in the postseason.
The next victim in your rampage toward the World Series trophy?
The Texas Rangers.
The team that faced the toughest obstacles to get to the postseason usually has success
After a 17-10 September, including five straight wins and a sweep of the Yankees to thrust themselves into the playoffs, the Tampa Bay Rays are feeling it.
They're hot, and when a team comes from seven runs down with six outs remaining in their season to clinch a postseason berth, there isn't much that club feels it can't do.
Last October the Rays met the Rangers in the American League Division Series, and what was shaping up to be a promising season in Tampa Bay came to a premature end after Texas slugged their way into the ALCS.
This year's rematch, however, could play out quite differently.
That's because the Rays are much like the team that won the 2010 World Series, the San Francisco Giants, in one key category: mad-dash drama.
The Rays made an improbable late-season push to qualify for the playoffs, somehow surpassing the Boston Red Sox despite trailing Boston by eight games as late as September 14.
While it's true that Boston's historic late-season collapse had much to do with this drastic turnaround, let's not forget that the 2010 Giants benefited from a 10-game losing streak suffered by the division-leading San Diego Padres late that season.
Who will win the 2011 ALDS?
The Giant defeated the Padres on the final day of the regular season in 2010 to clinch the division title and their ticket to the postseason, capping an 18-10 September in their own mad-dash to the finish line.
The bottom line is this: The Rays have played their guts out to get to October, and the Rangers won the AL West by 10 games over the Angels.
What the Rays did to capture the AL Wild Card spot will go down in baseball history as one of the greatest comebacks, both for a season and an individual game, that we've ever witnessed.
The Rays are riding a huge wave of momentum into Arlington, Texas, Friday as they open the best-of-five ALDS with the Rangers, and momentum is the key ingredient to postseason success.
So good luck, American League champions, because you'll need it this weekend, even on your home turf.
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