While three of the four division round playoff series went the maximum five games, the Texas Rangers defeated the Tampa Bay Rays in four games. Their offense put up eight runs in Game 2, and their pitching shut it down the next two. If they seemed comfortable, it’s because they were. They’ve advanced to the ALCS for the second straight season, and they’ve beaten the Rays both times.
Pitcher C.J. Wilson, who will start Game 1 against Justin Verlander, confirmed that’s how the team feels.
“Even though we went through Tampa Bay again, it’s not that it’s old hat, but there’s familiarity,” Wilson told SI’s Jimmy Traina. “Especially since it was just last year that we were in the playoffs. It we had like a year off, maybe it would feel new, but we have virtually the same team, so people are confident and positive about where we are.”
Yeah, they have mostly the same team, plus Mike Napoli. That guy has been a beast for them, and he should be good for the LCS despite swallowing his tobacco wad on a collision at home plate. Getting back to Wilson’s comments, feeling comfortable is important for Texas.
Wilson has a daunting task; he has to face the likely AL Cy Young winner in Game 1. If he feels like he has to do too much, and make too many great pitches in order to keep up with Verlander, he’ll likely end up in trouble. But if he maintains a calm feeling — because he’s been there before — he’ll have his best chance of competing. Of course, as an Angels fan, I’m wishing the worst for Texas.