So, today is kind of a big deal. It isn't as if the Rangers can't win two games in Tampa in the postseason -- they won three in Tampa in the ALDS last season, after all -- but going down 2-0 would be a pretty huge hole to deal with.
So, in our team of need, the Rangers turn to...
#45 / Pitcher / Texas Rangers
Oct 09, 1986
The storyline is going to be that Holland will either be great or he will be awful, and that will dictate what happens today, but it is worth noting that James Shields, the Rays' starter, is tied with Holland for the A.L. lead in shutouts, with four.
Shields also started Game 2 for the Rays in last year's ALDS, despite having a pretty poor season in 2010. He was knocked out in the 5th last season, leaving down 2-0 with two on and one out, only to see his replacement, Chad Qualls, give up a 3 run home run to Michael Young as the Rangers rolled to a 6-0 win.
Shields has pitched twice against the Rangers in 2011 and dominated both games, getting a complete game shutout in one outing and allowing one run in 8 innings in the other. Texas posted a .140/.183/.211 line against Shields this season, for what it is worth, which probably isn't much.
I suspect we'll see David Murphy in left field today and Mitch Moreland at first base, with Yorvit Torrealba and Craig Gentry going to the bench, but what the Rangers really need is for someone other than Josh Hamilton to show up and decide to hit today. Shields is a good pitcher who has had a great season, but he is hittable and beatable, and the Rangers' bats are good enough to put up runs against him.
I don't have any keys to the game or anything like that...we know what the deal is. Derek Holland has to throw strikes, command his fastball, and avoid the meatballs in the middle of the plate that have been the hallmark of his bad outings since he reached the majors in 2009. The bats have to wake up.
If that happens, the Rangers will likely win. If not, well...we'll be heading for Tampa hoping to sweep there and force a Game 5.
UPDATE -- Today's Rangers lineup:
Ian Kinsler -- 2B
Elvis Andrus -- SS
Josh Hamilton -- CF
Michael Young -- DH
Adrian Beltre -- 3B
Mike Napoli -- C
Nelson Cruz -- RF
David Murphy -- LF
Mitch Moreland -- 1B