It seems only fitting in this crazy of Major League Baseball that we’ve just witnessed, that we’d be treated to one of the most unlikeliest matchups we’ve ever seen in a Divisional Series. Both teams made big time moves and played fantastic ball in the 2nd half of the season to get here. It’s proof in the pudding of the parity in baseball, today. So, let’s take a peek at this matchup.
On one end of this matchup, you have one team that was picked to finish last in their division before the season started. On the other end, you have a team that was picked by most to contend for their division title, or picked by some to win it. The team picked to finish last in the American League West was the Texas Rangers. The team picked to contend in the AL East was the Toronto Blue Jays.
While, the Rangers got off to a nice start out west, so did the Houston Astros. The Astros held first place for 139 days, before the Rangers were able to overtake them. With that 2nd half surge, the Rangers became only the sixth team in MLB history to take over first place in a division for the first time that late in the season. Once, they got into first place they weren’t about to give it up. The addition of ace pitcher, Cole Hamels put the Rangers over the top, even though he got off to a slow start when he came over from the Philadelphia Phillies. The Rangers have a nice mix of young and experienced players, led by shortstop Elvis Andrus, Adrian Beltre, and Josh Hamilton. All of whom, were instrumental parts of the Rangers’ World Series teams of 2010 and 2011. Of course, DH, Prince Fielder, and first baseman Mike Napoli, give the Rangers even more experience. But, the story of this team in the second half has to be the play of centerfielder, DeLino DeShields. Taking up where his Father by the same name, left off when he played a number of seasons for the Montreal Expos amongst other teams, DeShields has been just what the doctor ordered for the Rangers.
In the American League East, this was supposed to be the year of the Baltimore Orioles again. But, a hot start by the New York Yankees changed all of that thinking. While, the Yankees were looking very Yankee like to start the season, the Jays were off to a rough start. The bats were ok, but pitching was an issue. Especially, starting pitching. The Jays remedied that problem by going out getting David Price from the Tampa Bay Rays. Price, has been outstanding. But, Toronto didn’t stop there in their mid-season acquisitions. The Jays went out and got another bat in Colorado Rockies shortstop, Troy Tulowitzki. The Blue Jays offense immediately took off, and so did the rest of the team, erasing the Yankees lead and sending the Blue Jays to their first playoff appearance since 1993. Yep. That’s right. The same season Joe Carter hit a walk-off homer off of Phillies closer, Mitch ‘The WildThing’ Williams to win the World Series.
So, who wins this series? The Jays, unquestionably have the advantage. They’re have home field advantage. They have David Price, and they have a lethal offense that can go on a tear and score runs in bunches. The question is, how healthy is Tulowitzki? If he’s fine in the middle of that lineup with Josh Donaldson, Jose’ Bautista, and Edwin Encarnacion the Blue Jays should win this series. If not, the Rangers have players that have been in this position before. The experience of Beltre, Andrus, and Hamilton will keep the Rangers competitive. Yovani Gallardo takes the mound first for the Rangers against David Price. The Rangers have had success against Price in past postseason appearances. We’ll see how things work out today.
Thanks for reading!