The Texas Rangers have made a habit out of beating the Tampa Bay Rays when it counts the most — in the postseason.
The way things are looking right now, with the Rangers fighting the New York Yankees for the best record in the American League and the Rays comfortably in place for one of the two AL wild card spots, it seems awfully likely the two teams could match up in the ALDS for the third straight year. And starting tonight, the two teams will begin a three-game series in Arlington, starting with a matchup of Derek Holland and Cy Young candidate David Price, who is currently sporting a 2.28 ERA with a 16-4 record.
Of all the possibilities for first-round matchups, Tampa Bay might be the least desirable for the Rangers. First off, the Rangers might have trouble beating them for the third time in as many years, needing five games in 2010 and four in 2011 — in the best-of-five first-round format.
The Rays have one of the best rotations in all of baseball with Price, Matt Moore, Jeremy Hellickson and James Shields likely forming a four-man playoff rotation. All four of those guys would be a No. 1 or No. 2 for the Rangers. That's a scary prospect to think about.
Without a bona fide ace (Matt Harrison has been awfully close) and their postseason beast (Colby Lewis) it's going to be a tough road ahead no matter who the Rangers face, but a matchup with Tampa Bay could be daunting. The one thing the Rangers might have going for them would be the fact that with the new wild card alignment and the one-game playoff, Price would likely only be available to pitch one game of the series because he'd likely start that wild card playoff game.
Start crossing your fingers for the Orioles in that first round.