This week I wanted to fume about the NBA deciding to put nicknames on jerseys, or lament about Vince Wilfork’s season-ending ACL tear, or even discuss the NHL gearing up to begin soon enough. But this week, the glorious gift from the world of baseball overtakes everything.
162 games were supposed to decide everything. It was supposed to decide who was better, but at the end, two teams stood together: the Texas Rangers and the Tampa Bay Rays, both 91-71.
When the season, spanning from the last day of March to the first day of October isn’t enough…when 162 games isn’t enough, what does that bring? Game 163! Hallelujah! The greatest joy for every baseball fan is more baseball and this game is one game where everything could end tonight for one team. These players haven’t played in one-game playoffs since high school and college.
The intensity will be high, the leashes on Starters will be short, and it’s truly win or go home.
David Price: The Rays give the ball to their Ace, the three-time All Star and 2012 Cy Young. Even though he missed some time this season and finished with a 9-8 record overall, his 147:26 K:BB ratio is among the best in the league. The big lefthander is the biggest pitcher for the Rays and will need his biggest game for them to advance. However, over the past years in 2010 and 2011, Price has been tagged by Texas. He’s 0-3 with a 4.65 ERA over 19.1 innings in three starts. He’s also been shelled for 24 hits. However the ballgame is in Texas and Price has looked worse there with a stat-line of 1-2 for a 10.56 ERA.
Martin Perez: in his last 11 games, 7-2 with a 3.05 ERA, so he’s got the hot hand for Texas, which is why they elected to go with him. He’s 10-5 on the season with a 3.55 ERA in 19 games started. The young man, he’s 21, pitches in the biggest game of his life as this could be his coming out party, or he could prove he can’t handle the spotlight. This game comes at home where Perez has actually played poorly in comparison to the road. Home: 3-3 3.18 ERA, Away: 7-2 3.84 ERA. Perez, as young as he is, can’t allow the Rays to pile on base hits early or that could spell trouble for the Rangers. Also, Texas needs to give him at least four runs of support, he’s 4-2 in those games.
Analysis: Price will out-wily the rookie, but neither will contribute to the decision as this one ends late on a deep-inning heroics.
Wil Myers: The American League rookie of the month for September has been lighting it up for the Rays finishing first in hits, runs, doubles, extra-base hits and total bases. He tied for first in homers and ranked second in every other statistical category. Expert analysis? He is good. Myers, acquired from Kansas City for James “Big Game” Shields (is it rude to mention he probably won’t pitch in many big games anytime soon?), has been incredible. He has a tendency to “leak” and pull the ball when he gets down in the count, but he does it so effortlessly that he can get away with it. Myers, the cleanup hitter, will decide this game from his production at the plate.
Nelson Cruz: In his first re-appearance to MLB action since his 50-game suspension for his involvement in the Biogenesis clinic, he will play a large role for the Texas Rangers lineup. With a power-outage of a lineup with Mitch Moreland and Craig Gentry, Cruz can power the Texas Rangers or he can let them slip and fall. He has spent his downtime in the Arizona Instructional League trying to get timing back. His last game was August 4th and he left with 27 homers on the year.
Prediction: The last three Game 163’s have been in favor of the home team by one run, but Tampa Bay will buck the trend and emerge victorious 6-4.