At 7:07 tonight in Arlington, two 91 win teams meet in a winner-take-all single game playoff to determine who advances to another winner-take-all single game playoff to determine who advances to a best of five ALDS series.
In the top of the first tonight the Rangers will send Martin Perez (3.55 ERA, 4.21 FIP) to the mound to make just his 26th major league start. He made 19 starts for Texas this season and last pitched on Wednesday, when he allowed three runs on six hits over seven innings against the Astros. Perez just turned 22 in April.
Perez is lefthanded and maintains a relatively even platoon split, but 13 of the 17 homers he's allowed in his career have come against righthanded hitters. The Rays only had one batter hit more than 18 home runs this season (Evan Longoria), and he's righthanded. Perez's fastball sits in the 92-94 range and he'll mix in a fair number of changeups along with a slider and curve.
Perez did not face the Rays in the season's first 162 games, and no current Rays have faced him more than three times.
He'll face 28-year-old lefty David Price (3.39 ERA, 3.05 FIP), who is having a down year by his standards. The #1 overall pick in the 2007 draft beat the Yankees on Wednesday, allowing two runs on six hits over seven innings. He did not walk a batter but struck out eight in the game.
After throwing 208.2 or more innings in each of the last three seasons, Price has been limited to 177.2 in 2013 and his strikeout rate (7.5 per nine innings) is the lowest it's been since 2009. His walk rate is outstanding, though, (1.3 per nine innings) so he won't beat himself. He'll also throw a 92-94 fastball with a cutter, changeup and curve.
Price did not face the Rangers during the season, but seven current Rangers have faced him ten times or more in his career:
Now we have lineup tweets, starting with the Rays:
Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) September 30, 2013
And the Rangers lineup, featuring Nelson Cruz for the first time in months:
By my count, Nelson Cruz is the only former Brewer in either lineup.
It's a beautiful night for baseball in Texas. Expect a game-time temperature around 82 under sunny skies to drop into the mid 70's as the game goes along. A light breeze will be blowing from right to left.
Enjoy the game!