ST PETERSBURG FL - OCTOBER 07: C.J. Wilson #36 of the Texas Rangers pitches during Game 2 of the ALDS against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field on October 7 2010 in St. Petersburg Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
There's really not that much analysis to be done about Game 5.
This has been talked to death. This is a matchup between two very good, and fairly equally matched, teams. Two of the top pitchers in the A.L. will be facing off. And baseball being the way it is, there's a pretty decent chance someone like Willy Aybar or Bengie Molina or someone else off the radar becomes the hero of the game, and thus the series.
I think 4 runs will be enough to win this game -- if Texas can get 4 on the board, I think they advance to the ALCS.
There's something else I've been thinking about that I think will come into play today.
I think the Rangers clearly want lefties facing the Rays as much as possible. The fact that Derek Holland and Darren Oliver have done so much heavy lifting so far in the series indicates as much (and suggests that the Rangers would have been better served having Clay Rapada or Michael Kirkman on the roster, instead of either Dustin Nippert or Esteban German, but that's a separate issue).
(And not to belabor this point, but...good grief, it would have been nice to have Rapada available to come in and pitch on Saturday in the 8th inning, when Oliver was clearly running out of gas).
The Rays have been much better this series with their lefty-swinging lineup than with their righty-swinging lineup, and I suspect Ron Washington wants to exploit that.
Cliff Lee is, of course, a lefty, and I suspect the Rangers are going to ride him as long as they can -- this, after all, as has been pointed out ad nauseam, is why the Rangers traded for him.
But C.J. Wilson is also available today, on full rest. C.J. Wilson has experience pitching out of the bullpen. And C.J. Wilson is a lefty.
My gut says that, in the wake of two shaky outings in this series, Neftali Feliz will not see the mound today. Darren O'Day and Alexi Ogando aren't likely to see the mound, other than possibly for one righthanded batter.
No, I suspect that the Rangers are going to go with Cliff Lee as long as they can, and then, so long as the game is close, will go to C.J. Wilson. I expect that, barring a Rangers blowout, the Rangers aren't going to use anyone other than Cliff Lee and C.J. Wilson.
It would be something else to see C.J. Wilson come in and get the save in the 9th to seal this deal, wouldn't it?