We've had a lot of excitement in the last couple of games in the Major League Baseball regular season. The excitement hasn't ended as I'll give you a preview of Tampa Bay Rays vs. Texas Rangers and Detroit Tigers vs. New York Yankees. Let's take a look.
Tampa Bay Rays (91-71) vs. Texas Rangers (96-66)
Mark Teixiera of the New York Yankees said it best; "One of the greatest days in
baseball history". The final day of the regular season saw two thunderous comebacks by the Tampa Bay Rays and the
St. Louis Cardinals as they came from way back in the Wild Card race to snatch
a wild card spot in each respective league. I'll talk about the Cardinals in my
National League Preview later on.
The Cardiac Kids
The Tampa Bay Rays pulled of something that's never been done before. The Boston Red Sox
held a 9 game lead over Tampa Bayon September 4th but proceeded to go
7-20 the rest of the way. The Rays managed to catch the Red Sox just in time, leaving everything to ride on the last game of the season.
Tampa Bay trailed the Yankees 7-0 going into the bottom of the 8th inning, but somehow scored 6 runs in the 8th. Thanks to a game tying home run by Dan Johnson in
the 9th inning (Johnson is a .119 hitter on the season!!!, the game went on to
Meanwhile, Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon had proceeded to strikeout his
first 2 batters in the 9th inning in the Sox game with a one run lead and then tanked, giving the game away to the lowly Baltimore Orioles.
Just minutes later in the Rays game,
Evan Longoria hit his 2nd home run of the game in the 12th inning in the
midnight air at Tropicana Field to complete the greatest comeback in the history of the sport.
Longoria's blast sealed the deal and gave the Rays the victory and an appointment to meet the
Texas Rangers at 5:07 pm ET on Friday, September 30th to begin their Divisional
League Series against the Texas Rangers.
The Rays have all of the confidence in the world at this point. Evan Longoria
has had a lackluster season with 31 HR, 99 RBI, and .244 BA but he picked the
right time to get hot. Aside from the comeback, he's the main reason why the
Rays are still playing. Expect Longoria to be the backbone of a team with no
legitimate offensive stars.
Due to the desperate wild card chase, ace James Shields won't see the rubber
until game 3. Six foot nine right hander Jeff Niemann (11-7, 4.06) is scheduled
to start game 1 against Rangers ace C.J. Wilson (16-7, 2.94). The reliever
turned starter will be fresh and ready to go as he's supported by a fierce
Rangers offensive attack.
These teams are no strangers to eachother as they met in the ALDS last year
with Texas coming out on top in 5 games and eventually losing in the World
Series. Expect a similar scenario here, but the Rays will play with more emotion in this series.
If there is one word to describe the Texas Rangers offense is is "Loaded", as they can hit for
average and power. The Rangers bring their 210 home runs and a .283 batting average
into this series.
Michael Young, Mike Napoli, and Adrian Beltre have been on
fire lately. Young leads the team with a sizzling .338 batting average while
the Rangers possess 5 hitters with 25 or more HR this season. The Rangers
offense is far superior to that of the Rays but Tampa is playing on adrenaline and at the moment are the hungrier team, and therefore my MLB pick+ for this series.
Pick- Tampa Bay
New York Yankees (97-65) vs. Detroit Tigers (95-67)
This will be another competitive matchup. Some people think that the Yankees
tanked the last game of the season in fear of facing Boston and eliminating
them. This isn't true. Boston led the AL East for most of the season and the
Yankees put it into high gear in the last few months to surpass them, proving that they are the better team
The keys to the Yankees success were the timely hitting of Curtis Granderson
(41 HR, 119 RBI), the re-emergence of the captain Derek Jeter after he got his
3000th hit, the great Mariano Rivera defying father time, and the near
perfection of young pitcher Ivan Nova (16-4, 3.70). The Yankees got hot when
they had to and used their vast amount of experience. Will it be enough? That
remains to be seen.
When you think of pure dominance, this is the name that comes to mind. Justin
Verlander has had the season of a lifetime and along with the Cy Young Award,
is in the running for the AL MVP. He was 24-5 with a
2.40 ERA and 250 K's. Verlander also help the opposition to a .192 batting
average. He can't win an entire series by himself but the Tigers will be
dominant when Justin Verlander takes the mound.
Miguel Cabrera and offensive depth
Throughout the lineup, every player on the Tigers can be counted on to produce
consistently. The leader of the pack is MVP candidate and first baseman Miguel
Cabrera. Cabrera has a .344 BA with 30 HR and 105 RBI. Cabrera will be licking
his chops in game 1 as C.C. Sabathia is slated to start for the Yankees.
Cabrera is a lifetime .563 off of Sabathia with 2 HR and 11 RBI in just 16
at-bats. C.C. Sabathia (19-8, 3.00 ERA) will have to deal with 2 MVP candidates
in Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera. Look for Sabathia to pitch around
Cabrera. Those numbers are downright scary.
Friday, September 30th at 8:37 pm ET on TBS fans will get to witness two of the
best pitchers in the American League in Justin Verlander and C.C. Sabathia.
This should be a low scoring game and another series that might go the
distance. Home field advantage doesn't hurt but I like the Yankees experience
in this series.
Pick- New York Yankees