On Tuesday, the Tampa Bay Rays will host the Texas Rangers in the second game of a three game series at Tropicana Field in Tampa Bay. The Rays won the opening game of the series; 5-1 behind James Shields. After the win for Tampa Bay, they moved to 9.5 games behind Boston and 7 behind the Yankees for the American League Wildcard. Tampa Bay has won three in a row and six of their last ten. The Rangers are three games ahead of the Angels for first place in the American League West. The Rays will send Jeff Niemann to the mound, and he will be opposed by the Rangers C.J. Wilson.
Tampa Bay Rays (+105)
The Rays are wishing they could find more consistent offense. Tampa Bay is batting .244 as a team, which ranks 25th in all of Major League Baseball. Tampa Bay is led by Casey Kotchman and his .316 batting average. Evan Longoria has blasted 25 homeruns and drove in 80 runs; which both leads the team. Tampa Bay’s pitching has guided the team most of the season, as they have a .358 earned run average; which ranks fifth in Major League Baseball. The Rays also have 87 quality starts from their rotation. Jeff Niemann comes into the game 9-6 on the season, in search of his 10th. Niemann holds a career 36-22 record, and a 4.08 earned run average.
Texas Rangers (-115)
The Texas Rangers want to continue hitting the cover off the ball. Texas knows if they can win the American League West, they will be a tough team to beat in the postseason. The Rangers are the defending American League champions. In 2011, the Rangers rank third in runs with 724, and second in batting average (.277). C. J. Wilson is one of five starting pitchers in the Rangers rotation that has double digit wins. Wilson holds a 14-6 record in 2011 with a 3.28 earned run average. In his last start, against Tampa Bay on September 1st, he threw 6 innings, allowing 2 hits and 2 runs in the win. The 30 year old holds a 41-34 career record.
Both teams feel like they have a shot at postseason baseball. Obviously Tampa Bay needs wins more desperately than the Rangers. The Rays feel if they have a very hot September they may be able to slide into a spot. This should be a pretty good baseball game, with solid pitching and timely hitting. We are going to make a bet that the Texas Rangers beat the Tampa Bay Rays in the second game of the series. Look for the Rangers to even out the series at one, by coming away with a win over the Rays.