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Rangers Hope Wednesday is 2010 All Over Again

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    ST PETERSBURG, FL - OCTOBER 12: Pitcher Cliff Lee #33 (2ndL) of the Texas Rangers celebrates his team's victory over the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 5 of the ALDS at Tropicana Field on October 12, 2010 in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)

    This Rangers-Blue Jays series has been filled with fake.

    The jinx tweet from not really the actual Texas Governor. That pudgy, supposedly “random” dude in glasses whom Fox/MLB Network just coincidentally always finds eating and playing on the MLB “At Bat” app on his iPad – whether in Toronto or Arlington. And, yep, a sprinkling of false confidence by Rangers fans after building that 2-0 lead.

    Enough of that. What this series needs now is a heaping dose of Déjà vu.

    2010, anyone?

    If this ALDS doesn’t remind you of Texas’ battle with Tampa Bay five years then you haven’t been paying attention. The similarities are eerie. Fingers crossed that continues in this afternoon’s Game 5 in Canada.

    Winning three consecutive road games against an elite team in the playoffs is dicey. But not long ago the Rangers proved it was doable.

    In 2010 the 90-win Rangers were the decided underdog against 96-win and the AL East champion Rays. This year? Same scenario against the 93-win and AL East champion Blue Jays.

    In 2010 Texas won Games 1 and 2 on the road by a combined 11-1, behind two sterling pitching performances by Cliff Lee and C.J. Wilson and a timely, unlikely homer from a catcher, Bengie Molina. This year the Rangers swept the first two games in Toronto behind quality starts by Yovani Gallardo and Cole Hamels and, sure enough, a crucial homer from a catcher, Robinson Chirinos.

    In 2010 the Rangers squandered two chances to win the series, losing Games 3 and 4 in Arlington by 6-3 and 5-2 as Tampa’s MVP candidate – 3rd baseman Evan Longoria – awakened with four hits and a homer. This year? They again lost both home games by big margins (four runs each) as Toronto’s MVP candidate – 3rd baseman Josh Donaldson – awakened with a key homer.

    But on Oct. 12, 2010 the Rangers went back to Tampa for Game 5 and handed the ball to Lee, a proven left-hander acquired in a trade specifically to win big games in October. And he did just that, limiting Tampa to six hits and beating now-Blue Jay David Price in a complete-game, 5-1 victory to propel the Rangers into the ALCS and, eventually, their first World Series. This year? On Oct. 14 Texas heads back to Toronto and hands the ball to Hamels, a proven left-hander acquired in a trade specifically to win big games in October.

    And he …

    A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.