ALDS GAME 4 PREVIEW: BLUE JAYS AT RANGERS
Game three was a bit rough for Texas but the Rangers will look to wrap up the series win while still in Arlington. The Rangers will send Derek Holland to the hill for game four and Toronto will send out R.A. Dickey.
Today’s game is by no means a must win contest but after the thrashing the Rangers received last night it sure feels like a must win. The scoreboard only showed the Rangers losing by four runs but the damage would have been much more severe without the help of four double play balls.
Troy Tulowitzki put together his first two hits of the series including a two out three-run homer in the sixth inning. A hot Tulo is what takes this team from very good to unstoppable force. Before the Tulo bomb Mitch Moreland turned a double play to get the runner at home in what felt like a game-changing momentum swing. Unfortunately Chi Chi Gonzalez hung a changeup thigh high and Tulowitzki didn’t miss it.
Sometimes all it takes is one good swing to break out of a slump. The Rangers are hoping that statement does not hold true for Tulo but does for Shin Soo Choo and Prince Fielder. The two most potent Ranger bats, with Adrian Beltre still a question mark, are a combined 2-25 with two walks and seven strikeouts. They also have one RBI between them. If this team is going to go far in the playoffs, Choo and Fielder MUST produce.
It isn’t just those two lacking offensive production, it’s also the middle third of the order. Josh Hamilton broke his ridiculous o fer streak with a pair of hits last night. Outside of Mike Napoli‘s pinch hit game tying RBI single in the eighth inning of game two, the middle third has been quiet.
Not one of the five extra-base hits have come from the 2-6 hitters. The only extra-base hit in game three was Hanser Alberto‘s third inning ground-rule double. Alberto scorched that hit and might have gone to third had it not hopped over the wall.
Speaking of Alberto, why hasn’t Beltre been replaced by Joey Gallo on the roster yet? I never want to doubt Adrian Beltre, but I kind of want to doubt Adrian Beltre. Even though it was incredibly exciting to see Beltre grab a bat and take swings late in game two, I have to question the decision to use up a precious roster spot with a player who can’t actually play.
Jon Daniels keeps saying how nothing Beltre does surprises him, so that makes me think one day Adrian will just show up and start playing baseball like nothing is hurt. If you replace him for the ALDS then he is ineligible to return for the ALCS. The Rangers are banking hard on a quick recovery for Adrian Beltre.
After his game two homer Josh Donaldson picked up where he left off in game two before he yelled obscenities at a pitcher for not letting him hit a home run. Donaldson is now 3-10 in the series and the most potent of the big three Toronto bats. Both Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion are hitting under .250 in a miniscule sample size.
Texas pitchers limiting damage from the heart of the Toronto order has been the key to success for Texas. If Derek Holland can keep from giving up more than one longball today Texas will have an excellent chance to win.
All of the runs Holland allowed against Toronto in his start against them this year came from three home runs. Avoiding the dinger is imperative for Derek, or at least making certain it’s only a solo shot by avoiding walks as well.
Knuckleballers by their very nature are hit or miss. Hittable knuckleballs might be just the thing the meat of the Ranger’s lineup needs to get a hot streak started.
After seeing David Price warming up out of the bullpen last night it poses a serious question of how the Blue Jays will use him the rest of this series. They lost one of their two left handed relievers Brett Cecil to injury in the game two marathon. Since Texas is so lefty dominant with the bats it wouldn’t be out of the question for Price to be used out of the pen in game four. This would leave Marcus Stroman on short rest as the game five starter.
Let’s hope that isn’t a game that has to be played and that Dickey’s knuckleballs are high and that the Rangers let them fly. This game feels like one they need to take while they’re still in friendly Arlington confines. Or if this turns out like 2010 and the road team wins every game I wouldn’t be horribly upset.
But win this one. Win it Derek. Win it Prince. Win it Bannister. Win the dang series.