For the very first time in franchise history, the Texas Rangers will end the season with the best overall record in the American League. Thanks to tonight's 3-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays, the Rangers will begin each and every playoff series, for as long as they remain in the hunt, at The Ballpark.
Texas is set up to face the Wild Card winner in the ALDS and, should they advance, they would play the winner of the series between the Boston Red Sox and Cleveland Indians in the League Championship Series with home field in their back pocket. Should Texas use that homefield to find themselves in the Fall Classic, they would again open at home.
The Rangers have never had the homefield advantage in a World Series but they've positioned themselves to play the most meaningful games of the year in Arlington.
They clinched homefield tonight thanks in part to Carlos Beltran and Rougned Odor hitting dongs. For Odor, it was his 33rd of the season which broke his tie with Adrian Beltre for the team lead. Beltre himself singled in a run and every Ranger in the starting lineup had at least one hit except for Jonathan Lucroy, but he was busy with helping Yu Darvish toss a dandy.
With three shutout innings from a combo of Tony Barnette, Jake Diekman, Matt Bush, and Sam Dyson to close things out tonight, the Rangers reached a new franchise record of 29 2/3 straight scoreless innings from the bullpen.
The new record breaks the previous mark of 28 1/3 scoreless innings. So, if you were concerned about the bullpen ahead of playoff baseball, they've done a record setting job of helping you breathe a little easier.
Player of the Game: Yu Darvish is ready for October. Tonight, in his final tuneup before the postseason, Darvish threw six innings and allowed a run on three hits and a walk while striking out a season-high 12 Rays.
Up Next: The Rangers and Rays play the second game of this series with the Rangers just looking to get through the weekend in good health. Colby Lewis is scheduled to pick (on Colby Lewis Bobblehead night, no less!) against RHP Jake Odorizzi of Tampa Bay. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 pm CT.