There is no team off to a hotter start this season than your Texas Rangers, but there are some teams who are pretty darn close. One of those comes to town this weekend, beginning with a 7:05 p.m. first pitch tonight, in the form of the Tampa Bay Rays.
The Rays and Rangers have gotten awfully familiar over the past two seasons, as the Rangers have gotten the better of the Rays in the ALDS both years, including in 2010 — their first-ever playoff series victory.
It's probably correct to assume this series will be tougher than the Yankees one just because of the Rays' starting pitching, beginning with ace James Shields tonight, who is Cliff Lee-like in that he expects to go nine innings every time out. They get a bit of a break on Saturday before coming back Sunday for ESPN Sunday Night Baseball as Derek Holland takes on his young lefty counterpart, David Price.
The Rays' pitching has always been good, and so far this season its the league's second-best behind the Rangers, but they've had trouble scoring runs. So far this year, that hasn't been the case, led by Evan Longoria (.309) and Matt Joyce (.322).
First, the Detroit series was the Rangers' first big test. They took 3 of 4. Then, the Yankees came to town and romped the Rangers in the series opener before the Rangers ended up taking 2 of 3. Now, it's the Rays turn to test the Rangers. We'll see how they respond.