ALDS GAME 3 PREVIEW: RANGERS AT BLUE JAYS
If someone claimed prior to the series opener that the Rangers would steal games one and two on the road against the vaunted Blue Jays lineup, said person would have been ridiculed, dismissed, and the butt of several water cooler jokes.
The person might have also attempted to take their prediction a step further, and told how the Rangers’ pitching staff was going to hold the heart of the Toronto order – Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, and Troy Tulowitzki – to a five-for-25 clip.
They might have then wildly claimed that Shin Soo Choo, Adrian Beltre, Prince Fielder, the Mitch Moreland/Mike Napoli combo, and Josh Hamilton were going to combine for just four hits in 35 trips to the plate with three runs batted in and five free passes.
Well, that person would have hit the proverbial nail on the head, because that is exactly what has happened. The two explosive offensive juggernauts of baseball’s second half have been quieted by a no-rules bullpen, a few 20-somethings, and a pair of staff aces.
Enter Rougned Odor. Every post season, there will undoubtedly be a player who sets the national scene on fire. They burst onto the scene, turn the heads of analysts and fans, and set Twitter on fire. Through two games, Odor has done it all for his ball club and then some.
Texas has scored 11 runs thus far in the series – Odor has five of those. His infield single in game two set the stage for Hanser Alberto’s single in the 14th inning. There was his dive into home in game one, a literal, all out, head first, dive to beat a Kevin Pillar strike from center field. There was also a jump throw over Donaldson, a back hand grab whilst ranging to his right and the ensuing nonchalant flip to first, and a heads up advance to third while no one was covering. Everything he does, he does at 110-percent and with a demeanor that oozes confidence, competitiveness, and swagger.
Rougned Odor is the dirtbag the 2010 and 2011 teams did not have. He is this team’s “x-factor,” and this is his coming out party. He’s a 21-year-old gamer in every sense of the word, and is blossoming into a fan favorite right before our very eyes. Enjoy.
Martin Perez will toe the rubber for the Rangers as they look to not only sweep the Blue Jays, but become the first team to punch its ticket to a league championship series.
According to FanGraphs, Perez is leaning a little more on his changeup this year, 21.8-percent, and is actually throwing his fastball 1.5 miles per hour faster (91.8 mph) than pre-Tommy John’s 2014 average of 90.3. Perez will have to keep the Jays in the yard in order to continue the Rangers’ pitching success this series. His 2.71 groundball-to-fly ball ratio bodes well for those hopes, as does his 59.9-percent ground ball rate.
Donaldson is five-for-13 with three doubles and a home run off of Perez in his career, by far the best numbers of any Blue Jay.
First pitch is at 7:10 p.m. on Fox Sports 1.