The Texas Rangers: Playoff-bound with World Series hopes
The Texas Rangers had a goal – get to the postseason with the best record in the American League as well as home-field advantage in the playoffs. Well, they succeeded, coming into the playoffs as a heavy favorite. This is the first time in the Rangers’ history that they have done this – a great omen for a postseason that is sure to bring the Rangers success, and possibly a World Series title.
What does home field advantage mean?
Home field advantage for the Rangers is a huge plus for the team as a whole. The Rangers have a record of 53 -26 at home this season, and with a positive statistic like that, any chance to keep games in Arlington could prove successful for the team. At .671, they hold the winningest record percentage at home in the American League and are only second in the MLB to the Chicago Cubs, with a percentage of .704.
Texas’ offense tends to shine when at Globe Life Park. The Rangers were one of only four teams (along with the Rockies, Red Sox and Indians) with an OPS of at least .800 at home (.803). Being at home is good for the Rangers, which is why home field advantage might be the push they need to get to World Series glory.
Fresh start with popular rivalry
Tonight is the start of the road to Oct. 25. The Rangers and the Blue Jays will battle it out in the American League Division Series to start the journey to the grand prize. What makes this series interesting? Let’s see – in previous games between these teams, there was the notorious bat flip, an accusation of cowardice, a textbook punch to the jaw and fan misbehavior of epic proportions.
Has watching struck your fancy yet? These two teams will face off at Globe Life Park, and there are no warm fuzzies between them, to say the least. According to Toronto center fielder Kevin Pillar, the rivalry is well known. “They don’t like what we did to them last year, and we don’t like the way they responded.”
What can be said about these two teams? The Rangers are riding high off of a nice rest, winning the American League West title by nine games. They’ve had time to settle on their postseason rotation and are primed to continue their upward swing and maintain the momentum from their regular-season wins. Cole Hamels will be pitching Game 1, and Yu Darvish is set for Friday.
The Blue Jays, fresh off a wild card win over the Baltimore Orioles, have their starters lined up by ERA – Marco Estrada is set for Thursday, followed by J.A. Happ and Aaron Sanchez. The Rangers have a strong desire to take their pound of flesh from the Blue Jays. The defeat of last season has not been forgotten, and the intention is to win and balance the universe once and for all.
Both teams have spectacular offenses – the Blue Jays are currently ranked third in the league in home runs, while the Rangers following close behind in fifth place. When looking at each position, Toronto might seem like they have the bigger edge, but one thing to note is that the postseason is about as predictable as the weather. Just when you think you have everything figured out, it just might surprise you.
The Rangers and the Blue Jays have attempted to make this series as emotionless as possible, trying to focus on the end goal of winning games and moving forward in the playoffs. Admittedly, however, with Jose Bautista’s jaw still recovering from the shot Roughned Odor took to it, this is not your typical game. Each team has a point to prove, and they will attempt to prove it at all costs.
So you can rest assured that Globe Life Park will be pretty electric tonight and for the continuation of the series. Expect a lot of beer and a lot of boos for Toronto players, especially Bautista. Expect the tone to be set early in the game and the fans to be under extra security. The negative energy between these two ball clubs could be cut with a knife. While each team attempts to remain tempered, if one small thing sets off the other side, this could be the beginning of a soap opera series. “I’m not looking for revenge. I’m looking to win ballgames,” Bautista stated. There are plenty of Rangers players who have that same sentiment – but to win, especially against a team as despised as the Toronto Blue Jays, might be the motivation needed for the team to press forward even harder.