ALDS Game 5 Preview: Rangers at Blue Jays
It all comes down to this. A winner-take-all Game 5. For the Rangers, it shouldn’t have come down to this – having taken a commanding two games to none lead in the series and heading home to Arlington. After a sub-par start from left-hander Derek Holland and a in-and-out-of-trouble start from Martin Perez, the Rangers have found themselves on the brink of elimination.
For the Blue Jays, the ball is in their court now. Confidence is sky high and the momentum, if you believe in that sort of thing, is all in their favor. A team that mashes lefties is facing their third straight left handed starter, something everyone advised against if the Rangers wanted to win this series. Up until this point, Jeff Banister had pressed all the right buttons – gambling with Yovani Gallardo in Game 1 and the bullpen usage in Game 2 only to press a couple of wrong ones over the latter half of the weekend. It happens. The decisions are impossible to make.
So now, a season of improbability comes down to one game. One game for the chance to play at least four more. One game for a chance to return to the American League Championship Series, a stage they spent two consecutive years on in 2010 and 2011. A stage they simply dominated in those years.
There are some eerily similar parallels to this game and the ALDS in 2010:
- The Rangers won the first two games of the series against the Rays – on the road as they did against the Blue Jays this series
- They came home only to lose both home games – in both series
- In Game 5 in 2010 – on the road, they started a stud pitcher, formerly of the Philadelphia Phillies, that they acquired from the Mariners near the trade deadline
- In Game 5 of 2015 – on the road, they start a stud pitcher, formerly of the Philadelphia Phillies, that they acquired near the trade deadline
- Games 1, 2 and 5 were played on turf, in a dome stadium in both series’
- Josh Hamilton went 2-18 in the 2010 series – he’s 2-15 so far in this one
If Cole Hamels can duplicate the six hit one run complete game performance that Cliff Lee did in 2010, I like our chances.
- For the season: 13-8, 3.65 ERA, 62 BB, 215 K, 3.47 FIP, 1.187 WHIP
- Post-season career: 2007 NLDS, 2008 & 2009 NLDS, NLCS , WS, 2010 NLDS, NLCS, 2010 NLDS – 7-4, 3.05 ERA, 1.038 WHIP
- Against the 2015 Blue Jays: N/A
- 2008 NLCS MVP, 2008 World Series Champion, 2008 World Series MVP
- Key Match-ups vs. Hamels:
The Keys: Cole Hamels will have to keep the ball moving. In his Game 2 start, he threw his two-seamer often early in the game. The Jays managed a couple of hits and some runs off of him before he adjusted and greatly reduced the number of two-seamers he was throwing. He adjusted and started throwing his cutter and four seam more. It may have been because his two seam was flat or wasn’t moving as much as he’d like. He may try and go back to that today and see if that is successful. If his two-seamer is working, expect a lot of swing and misses and groundballs. If it’s not, Hamels will have work the edges of the plate and stay out of the zone. Whatever he does, he can’t give up the big inning. Keep the team in the game and hope that the offense wakes up.
- For the season: 4-0, 1.67 ERA, 6 BB, 18 K, 3.54 FIP, .963 WHIP
- Post-season career: 2015 ALDS
- Against the 2015 Rangers: N/A
- Key Match-ups vs. Stroman:
The Keys: We don’t know a whole lot about Marcus Stroman. He missed most of this year with a torn ACL and made just four starts. Last year, in his rookie year, he made 20 starts but pitched better than his ERA would indicate. What we do know about Stroman, is that after the 1st inning of Game 2, he dominated the Rangers. At one point, he retired 11 in a row and 15 of his last 18 batters faced. Another thing we know, get to him early. If the Rangers can scratch across some early runs, much like they did in Game 2, their chances of winning greatly increase.
X-Factors – For the Rangers, it has to be the entire offense. Mitch Moreland, Prince Fielder and Josh Hamilton are a combined 4-41 in the series with just one RBI. You simply cannot have that type of production from your middle of the order run producers and expect to win. It won’t happen. Fielder is riding a 91 postseason at bat RBI-less streak. He needs to break out in a big way.
For Toronto, it’s Marcus Stroman. Stroman will make or break this game. If he’s on early, this game is over. If the Rangers get some early runs, expect to see the bullpen and if John Gibbons panics and hits the pen early, it could be a good thing for Texas. We have been told that David Price is unavailable but I don’t buy that. Marco Estrada, the Game 3 winner, is available out of the pen on short rest however. He could be an equalizer if Texas gets to Stroman.
This is it Rangers fans. No matter what happens today, just remember that this team has done more than anyone thought they would. Embrace it. Enjoy it. After all, we’re still talking baseball and it’s mid October. That’s what it’s all about.
See you on the other side.
American League Division Series Game 5: Texas Rangers @ Toronto Blue Jays
October 14, 2015. 3:00 PM EST/2:00 PM CST
Cole Hamels (13-8, 3.65 ERA) vs. Marcus Stroman (4-0, 1.67 ERA)
TV: Fox Sports 1 in Texas, SNET in Canada
Radio: 105.3 FM The Fan in Texas, SN590 in Toronto, ESPN Radio nationally