The last time the Texas Rangers played against the Tampa Bay Rays in the playoffs was in 2011. Texas hosted the Rays in the division series and won in four games. The Rangers played Tampa Bay a year prior, but that time Tampa had the home field. Texas won that series in five games.
So, what are the chances Texas pulls off another playoff series against the Rays? Somewhat Likely.
Against Tampa Bay this season, the Rangers won one out of two series and went 4-2 in six games.
The first matchup between the two teams was on June 9th when the Rays beat Texas 8-3. Pitcher Tyler Glasnow threw for six innings and allowed just one run.
Overcoming Glasnow will be Texas' first big task if they hope to get past Tampa. He is the Rays' probable starter for Tuesday's game.
Looking back at the June series, the Rangers dominated game 2 8-4. The Rangers scored three runs in the second inning and three in the fourth to help secure a victory. Pitcher Nathan Eovaldi did just enough to help the team get by, as he allowed seven hits in six innings.
Texas eventually went on to lost the series in game three, as they fell 7-3.
Pitching. Martin Perez allowed seven earned runs and 10 hits in three innings and had two strikeouts. Batting also didn't help, as the team's only run came in the third inning.
However, things took a different turnaround when the Rangers hosted the Rays back in July.
On July 17th, Texas hosted game 1 of a three-game series against Tampa. The team played in a heavily contested battle, in which the Rangers won on a wild pitch in the ninth inning. Aroldis Champman sealed the deal, grabbing his first win with the team. Texas must hope Chapman bounces back this week, as he struggled against the Seattle Mariners last week.
I think the difference maker in the series will be the production and health of Evoaldi. In two games against Tampa Bay, he pitched well enough to help the Rangers secure two key victories.
On July 18, Eovaldi had one his best games. He allowed two hits in six innings, in a game in which he secured his 11th victory. Texas went on to win game three, as they secured a sweep against the Rays.
If the Rangers hope to continue their winning ways against Tampa Bay, it will be up to their bats to help seal the deal.
In six games against the Rays, All-Star Corey Seager hit .320 and knocked in two home runs. Teammate Leody Taveras also hit well against Tampa; he averaged a 1.086 OPS in 22 appearances.
The last time Texas played Tampa Bay, catcher Jonah Heim drove in three RBIs, one run, and a homer. The Rangers will need all the hitting help they can get, as they face a difficult task in game 1 of the series.
Either way, this should a fun series to watch, as Texas looks to win their first playoff series since 2011.