Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon argues a call with home plate umpire Tim Welke during the seventh inning of Game 1 of the baseball World Series against the Philadelphia Phillies in St. Petersburg, Fla., Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2008. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
When the Rays qualified for the ALDS on Wednesday night, it was assumed they would send Jeff Niemann to the mound against the Texas Rangers lineup and their ace C.J. Wilson.
Fat chance Niemann outduels Wilson, so now Joe Maddon is throwing everything on the table.
Matt Moore, a rookie phenom who is thought by many to be the top pitching prospect in baseball, will make the start in today's Game 1 against Wilson with Ranger killer James Shields going in Game 2 on Saturday.
Moore, a lefty, has 9 1/3 innings under his major league belt, including his most recent outing — a 5-inning outing against the Yankees in which he struck out 11 batters with one walk and didn't allow a run. That deserves a "WOW".
This could go one of two ways. The Rangers hit .320 as a team in September and have, by far, the scariest lineup in the playoffs. But they've never seen Moore.
Look for Moore to either mesmerize the Rangers with his sick curveball or fall flat on his face and get knocked out after three innings.
One thing's for sure, the Rangers really need to take a win today with Wilson on the mound because on Saturday they get Shields, who has 11 complete games this season and is 2-0 this season against the Rangers with a sub-2.00 ERA. A loss today, and things could get hairy.