While it is far too early to describe Tampa Bay’s series at Texas as an AL Championship Series preview, few would be surprised if the two squads squared off for the pennant come October. The Rays have shaken off a sluggish start, winning eight of their past 10 games. Tampa Bay Rays took Friday’s series opener 8-4 before Texas snapped the Rays’ six-game winning streak 7-2 on Saturday. The Rangers own baseball’s best record at 16-5, three games better than the Rays’ 13-8 mark entering Sunday’s nationally televised matchup.
The Texas Rangers boast baseball’s best offense, averaging 5.3 runs per game, leading the majors in batting average (.297) and ranking second in home runs (33). Outfielder Josh Hamilton paces the Texas attack, ranking in the top five in the majors in average (.388) homers (nine) and RBIs (24). Before Saturday, the Rays had allowed only 2.4 runs per game in their past 10 contests. Tampa Bay has given up 11 runs in the first two games of the series.
Rays Rangers Betting
When: 8:05 PM ET, Sunday, April 29, 2012
Where: Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Arlington, Texas
TV: 8:05 p.m. ET, ESPN
PITCHING MATCHUP: Tampa Bay LH David Price (3-1, ERA 2.63) vs. Texas LH Derek Holland (2-1, ERA 4.78)
Price pitched well in his last outing Tuesday, firing a complete-game five-hit shutout against the Angels. Price walked one and struck out six, both season-best marks. Historically the left-hander has struggled against Texas, going 0-3 with a 5.67 ERA in six career starts.
Holland looks to rebound from his worst start of the season Monday against the Yankees, when the left-hander allowed nine hits, seven earned runs and walked four in six innings. He had walked only three hitters in 14 1/3 innings in his previous two starts in victories over Seattle and Boston. Holland is 3-1 in five career starts against the Rays, but with a bloated 6.51 ERA.
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1. Left-handers are hitting .318 against Holland this season; right-handers .184.
2. Tampa Bay pinch-hitters have reached base in their last five plate appearances. The last two (Brandon Allen on Thursday and Luke Scott on Friday) homered.
3. Texas outfielder Nelson Cruz is hitting .438 against Price with two homers in 16 career at-bats.