ALDS Game 3 Preview: Texas Rangers vs. Toronto Blue Jays

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The Wild Card games are over and the Divisional Series matchups are set. TheTexas Rangers will play the Toronto Blue Jays in the best of five series. Pete Hodges has an ALDS game 3 preview of the matchup.

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Texas Rangers (88-74) vs Toronto Blue Jays (93-69)

Blue Jays won the season series (4-2)

Series Schedule:

Game 1: Texas won 5-3

Game 2: Texas won 6-4 in 14 innings

Game 3 @ Texas 8:10 PM Sunday, 10/11 on FS1

Game 4 (if needed) @ Texas TBD 10/12 2015 on FS1

Game 5 (if needed) @Toronto TBD 10/14 on FS1

All times are Eastern

Probable Starters:

Game 3: Martin Perez (13-8) (L) vs. Marco Estrada (R) (13-8)

Game 4:  Derek Holland (L) (4-3) vs. R.A. Dickey (11-11) (R)

Game 5: TBD vs. David Price (L) (18-5)[/box]

Game 2 Recap

Toronto came into the game needing a win, being down 0-1 to Texas in the series. Runs came early in this game and decided to stay late as it wouldn’t be until the 14th inning that a decision was reached.

Delino DeShields led off the game by hitting a double off Toronto starter Marcus Stroman. He came around to score when Shin-Soo Choo singled to center. Choo moved to third on a single by Prince Fielder and then scored on a fielder’s choice.

Toronto joined in the fun when MVP candidate Josh Donaldson hit a solo home run off trade deadline acquisition Cole Hamels. He was able to get through the rest of the first inning unscathed.

Rougned Odor led off the 2nd with a walk and eventually scored on a sac fly by Hanser Alberto. Texas left their half of the inning with a 3-1 lead.

Not to be outdone, Troy Tulowitzki led off reaching first on an error. He advanced to third on a Chris Colabello double and scored when Russell Martin hit a single to right field that moved Colabello to third. Colabello scored when Kevin Pillar grounded into a double play, tying the game, 3-3.

That was the end of the scoring until the bottom of the fifth. Pillar hit a double followed by a Ryan Goins sacrifice bunt which moved him to third. He came home on a Ben Revere single to give Toronto a 4-3 lead.

Texas tied the game in the eighth after a single by DeShields knocked Stroman out of the game. Choo moved DeShields to second on a sacrifice followed by a Fielder strikeout. Mike Napoli came in to pinch hit for Moreland and singled to tie the game at 4-4.

The game remained tied after nine and would remain that way through the thirteenth. Both teams had emptied their pens in the preceding innings. LaTroy Hawkins came in to start the fourteenth for Toronto and got the first two hitters out. Odor then singled, followed by a base hit by Chris Gimenez. Alberto hit another single scoring Odor and giving Texas the lead for good.

Liam Hendriks came in to relieve Hawkins and gave up a single to DeShields that scored Gimenez, increasing the lead to 6-4. Choo ended the inning by lining out to center.

Ross Ohlendorf came in to close out the game for the Rangers. He struck out Tulowitzki and Justin Smoak. He then hit Martin with a pitch and ended the game by striking out Pillar giving the Rangers a 2-0 lead in the best of three series.

Texas Rangers

The Texas Rangers were able to pass the Houston Astros in the standings despite a poor start to the season, acquiring Cole Hamels at the trade deadline to lead their rotation.

Overall

The Rangers scored 751 runs this season, good for 3rd place in the AL. They were middle of the pack in hitting home runs (7th place) with 172 long balls. Texas stole 101 bases, putting them in 3rd place. Their team combined to hit .257/.325/.413 with a .300 BABIP. The Rangers had the 5th best wOBA in the AL tied with the Boston Red Sox, hitting .321.

Starters

The rotation had a 62-54 record on the year with a 4.32 ERA, 4.39 FIP and 4.51 xFIP. Their batting average against was .266 and they had a K% of 15.7, while walking 7.6% of batters, with a WHIP of 1.37. The rotation was led by Yovani Gallardo until the acquisition of Hamels.

The Rangers will turn to lefty Martin Perez to take the hill in Game 3. Perez underwent Tommy John surgery in May of last year and made his return to the big leagues this July. He went 3-6 in 14 starts this season with a 4.46 ERA, a 3.40 FIP and a 3.99 xFIP. Perez relies on his sinker (35.74%), changeup (21.66%) and four-seam fastball (21.48%) while mixing in a slider (12.21%) and curve (8.91%). His sinker and fastball clock in around 92-mph with his changeup is usually 7-mph slower.

The Relievers

The Rangers’ bullpen posted a 26-20 record, sporting a 4.12 ERA in 502 innings pitched. The bullpen had 45 saves and 94 holds, while blowing 17 saves. They had a K/9 of 8.19 and a poor 3.60 BB/9. They allowed a 1.13 HR/9 with a batting average against of .245 and a BABIP of .290.

Shawn Tolleson took over as the closer in late May and finished the season with 35 saves while striking out 9.46 batter per nine innings and walking 2.12. Tolleson did not get the save opportunity in Game 1. The likely reason for this is that the Rangers had a three-run lead and Game 2 is at 12:45 today and the Rangers wanted to rest the closer if possible.

The Offense

Texas improved in the second half hitting .270/.341/.430, after hitting .247/.312/.400 in the first half of the season. They have a fairly even split when it comes to pitcher handedness, hitting .260/.328/.413 against righties and .253/.321/.414 versus lefties. The Rangers hit much better at home with a .274/.343/.442 line, while struggling to a .241/.307/.385 line away from Globe Life Park.

Toronto Blue Jays

The Blue Jays made huge moves at the trade deadline, acquiring Troy Tulowitzki and David Price, among others. These moves propelled the Blue Jays to a AL East winning 93-69 record.

Overall

The Blue Jays had by far the most runs scored in baseball with 891 ‒ 127 more than the second place Yankees. They led the AL in home runs (232) and had the fourth most steals (88). The team hit a combined .269/.340/.457 with a league-leading .344 wOBA.

The Starters

Toronto’s rotation went 62-54 putting up a 4.32 ERA, 4.39 FIP, 4.53xFIP in 940 ⅔ innings of work. They held opponents to a .266 BAA while walking 7.6% and striking out 15.7%, with a 1.37 WHIP.

The Blue Jays’ Game 3 starter will be Marco Estrada. The right-hander made 28 starts in 2015 with six appearances out of the bullpen. In his starts, Estrada was 12-8 with a 3.28 ERA, a 4.43 FIP and a 4.99 xFIP. He mostly throws four-seam fastballs (52.36%) with his change (28.05%) being his favored secondary pitch. He also mixes in a curve (11.25%) and cutter (8.31%). His fastball averages 90-mph while his change comes in at 79-mph.

The Bullpen

The Blue Jays’ bullpen had a 26-20 record, with 45 saves, 94 holds and 17 blown saves in 502 innings of work. Their K/9 and BB/9 were 8.19 and 3.60, respectively. The bullpen allowed 1.13 HR/9 and a BAA of .245. Their BABIP was .290.

20-year-old Roberto Osuna took over the closer’s role in late-June and has saved 20 games while only blowing three opportunities.

The Offense

The MLB-leading offense improved dramatically in the second half, hitting .274/.350/.478 after putting up a .264/.331/.441 in the first half. The Blue Jays lineup hit .266/.335/.455 against right-handed pitching, while feasting on left-handed pitching to the tune of .278/.354/.463. At home, the Blue Jays were significantly better than on the road: .278/.351/.485 at the Rogers Centre and just .260/.329/.431 away.

Chicks Dig the Long Ball

Toronto’s high-powered offense is led by MVP candidate Josh Donaldson. Donaldson’s first year in Toronto went as well as anyone could have hoped, hitting 41 home runs with a .297/.371/.568 line. So far, Donaldson only has one hit in the playoffs, but it was a home run. He’s joined by sluggers Jose Bautista (40), who hit a home run in Game 1, and Edwin Encarnacion (39 HR).

Pete Hodges has also written about the origins of the rally cap and the call up of Luis Severino.

Follow Pete on Twitter @PeterWHodges.

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