How the Texas Rangers turned themselves back into a playoff team
USA TODAY Sports’ Bob Nightingale talks about the Rangers’ turnaround after years of disappointment and missing the postseason.
The MLB wild card playoffs kick off today starting with the Texas Rangers at Tampa Bay Rays (3 p.m. ET)
The opener is followed by the Toronto Blue Jays at the Minnesota Twins (4:30 p.m.), the Arizona Diamondbacks at the Milwaukee Brewers (7 p.m.), and the Miami Marlins at the Philadelphia Phillies (8 p.m.).
The defending World Series champion Houston Astros have several days of rest until the Division Series begins, along with the Baltimore Orioles in the American League and the Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League.
Follow today’s quadruple header with live updates from USA TODAY Sports:
The complete MLB postseason schedule, throughout the World Series.
Rangers at Rays: 3:08 PM ET, ABC
- LHP Jordan Montgomery, Texas (10-11, 3.20 ERA) – RHP Tyler Glasnow, Tampa Bay (10-7, 3.53 ERA)
Blue Jays in Twins: 4:38 PM ET, ESPN
- RHP Kevin Gausman, Toronto (12-9, 3.16 ERA) – RHP Pablo Lopez, Minnesota (11-8, 3.66 ERA)
Diamondbacks at Brewers: 7:08 PM ET, ESPN2
- RHP Brandon Pvadt, Arizona (3-9, 5.72 ERA) — RHP Corbin Burns, Milwaukee
Marlins at Phillies: 8:08 PM ET, ESPN
- LHP Jesus Luzardo, Miami — RHP Zack Wheeler, Philadelphia (13-6, 3.61 ERA)
Rookie third baseman Josh Jung hit a sacrifice fly in the top of the second inning to open the scoring at Tropicana Field, driving off Nathaniel Lowe who led off the inning with a single.
Jung was the first rookie in Rangers history to start an All-Star Game and finished the season with 23 homers and 70 RBI in 122 games, missing time late in the season with a thumb injury.
It will be an emotional first game for Tampa Bay Rays’ Randy Arozarena.
His mother received a visa last week and traveled from Mexico to watch him play in the majors for the first time in his career.
She also threw out the first pitch.
Arozarena also faces his minor league roommate – the Rangers’ Adulys Garcia.
Not surprisingly, attendance for the first game between the Rays and Rangers was well below the capacity crowd at Tropicana Field. Even with their success, the Rays don’t paint well. The team averaged less than 18,000 fans per home game during the regular season, fourth-worst in the major leagues.
The Rays are scheduled to announce a new stadium to be built near Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida, which is expected to be ready by the 2028 season.
The best-of-three wild card format is in its second season. The format was changed in 2022 from a single-game sudden-death format that had been in place since 2012 with the exception of the 2020 season affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Six teams from both the American League and the National League Qualified for the postseason, including the three winners in each league. The three wild card teams in each league are the teams with the best records that have not won their division.
The winners of the first two divisions and those with the best records in each league receive a bye and do not have to play in the wild card round. One big advantage of the higher seed in this wild card series is that it can host all three games.
The Rangers-Rays winner faces Baltimore in the Division Series, the Twins-Blue Jays winner plays Houston, the Phillies-Marlins winner starts in Atlanta, and the Brewers-Diamondbacks winner gets a matchup with the Dodgers. – Associated Press
Four pivotal players in the MLB Wild Card Series
Sometimes, stars shine, impressing the television networks that promoted them and the fans who adore them. But often, in the Major League Baseball playoffs, the pivotal performers are people you never could have imagined.
USA TODAY Sports takes a look at four players who will certainly be pivotal in each of the four-game series, which begins Tuesday and ends either Wednesday or Thursday:
- Rangers Rays: Nathaniel Lowe
- Blue Jays Twins: Pablo Lopez
- Diamondbacks Brewers: Corbin Carroll
- Marlins Phillies: Trea Turner
Read Gabby Luck’s full breakdown here
Today’s MLB Wild Card lineups
Rangers at Rays
It’s been 6,937 days since the Minnesota Twins won a postseason game — on October 5, 2004.
They have been to the postseason seven times since that 2-0 win over the New York Yankees in Game 1 of the 2004 AL Division Series, playing 18 postseason games.
They lost them every single one of them. The 18-game losing streak is the longest in North American collegiate sports.
Now, here they are, with one more chance to end a terrible drought, playing the Toronto Blue Jays in the American League wild-card series on Tuesday (4:38 p.m. ET, ESPN) at Target Field.
Fortunately, they are not playing the Yankees, who are responsible for 13 of those 18 losses.
Read Bob Nightingale’s full story on the Twins’ losing streak.
One oft-used caveats in sports is the desire to “act like you were there.” As a way to focus on the ultimate goal of winning a championship, this proverb reminds athletes not to celebrate their accomplishments prematurely.
But what if you Didn’t do that I was there? How should you act then?
The Houston Astros are the defending World Series champions. The Texas Rangers qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 2016. Both teams clinched postseason berths last Saturday. And while the Rangers ended up missing out on the Western Conference title on the final day of the regular season, they still have reason to be proud of their accomplishments.
But then the internal rivalry between the teams took a strange turn when the Astros took on reporter Brian McTaggart of MLB.com who sent out a social media post that appeared to criticize the Rangers, saying they “celebrated” on Saturday while the Astros were focused on claiming the division. Address the next day. “Houston’s get-it-done mentality seems to have paid off.” “McTaggart wrote.
However, the Rangers beat out reporter Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News She called the remark “inaccurate.”
From there, things escalated — with each team’s fanbases participating in the discussion online and on sports talk radio. Even Rangers GM Chris Young He was asked about it during an interview Monday on Dallas radio station 105.3 The Fan.
Although it may be much ado about nothing right now, the Rangers and Astros could eventually meet in the AL Championship Series. If that happens, the winner could certainly claim bragging rights — and the right to a slightly bigger celebration — on their way to the World Series.
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