The good news for Rangers and Giants fans: in Major League Baseball history, 35 teams have been up 3-1 and then lost Game 5. Of those 35 Game 5 losers, 24 still went on to win the series. The good news for Giants fans: 17 of those Game 5 losers had to go on the road for Games 6 and 7, and 12 of those ended up winning the series. So yes, the odds still favor the plucky underdogs from Texas and San Francisco. Purely on history, the Rangers have a 67% chance at going on to the World Series and the Giants a 71% chance.
But as a great philosopher once said: never tell me the odds.
Why? Because of the 1987 NLCS. Because of the 2002 World Series. Neither of those Giants teams ever had a 3-1 lead, but each took a 3-2 lead on the road for games 6 and 7, and each of those teams woofed the final two. I like Matt Cain’s chances in a Game 7 better than Atlee Hammaker’s, and for all of the hostility in Citizens Bank Park, they don’t have the power of the Rally Monkey on their side in Philly, but you just know that Giants fans feel like they’ve been here before. I still worry about the Phillies’ offense, but the juju of it all is in their favor, and that’s not nothing.
The Rangers, in my mind, are in a much, much better position. They’re at home. They face a shaky Phil Hughes tonight. If worst comes to worst they have the best postseason pitcher in baseball going in Game 7. Nothing in life, and especially nothing in baseball is guaranteed, but I’d probably give the Rangers something better than the two out of three odds history gives them.
Tense times for Philly, San Francisco, New York and Texas partisans. Awesomely entertaining times for the rest of us. Here’s to a fantastic weekend of playoff baseball.
Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre, who’s been playing through an assortment of injuries for much of the season, left Game 1 of the ALDS in the third inning after tweaking his back on an RBI single.
Beltre grimaced in pain during the follow-through of his swing and could barely make it down the first base line. He remained in the game, but looked even worse trying to go to second base on Prince Fielder‘s ground out and was removed after the half-inning. He exited the field in tears.
Beltre is one of the best all-around third basemen in MLB history and even at age 36 had a fantastic season, hitting .287 with 18 homers and a .788 OPS in 143 games. That includes hitting .318 with 11 homers and an .884 OPS in the second half.
His pain threshold has been extremely high over the years, but based on how bad Beltre looked before exiting the game it’s hard to imagine him being available for a while. Texas has the option of removing him from the ALDS roster and adding another player, but doing so would make Beltre ineligible to return for the ALCS.
Hanser Alberto replaced Beltre and the Rangers are short on infield depth, making it an especially tough loss. According to the team, Beltre first hurt his back sliding into second base in the first inning and then worsened it with his third-inning swing.
St. Louis announced its roster for the NLDS and the biggest news is the inclusion of Adam Wainwright as a reliever.
Expected to miss the entire season following a torn Achilles’ tendon in April, he instead returned to make three relief appearances in the final week of the season and now may be counted on to get some key late-inning outs against the Cubs.
Right-hander Steve Cishek and left-hander Randy Choate are not on the NLDS roster, losing their bullpen spots to Tyler Lyons and Carlos Villanueva. Outfielders Jon Jay and Tommy Pham both made the roster, which had been a topic of much debate in Cardinals nation.
First baseman Mark Reynolds made the roster, but first baseman Matt Adams did not despite returning from the disabled list for some late-season action. And of course catcher Yadier Molina is on the roster and will give it a go playing through a sprained left thumb that’s sidelined him since September 20.
John Lackey will start Game 1, followed in the rotation by Jaime Garcia in Game 2, Michael Wacha in Game 3, and Lance Lynn in Game 4.
Here are the Rangers and Blue Jays lineups for Game 1 of the ALDS in Toronto:
CF Delino DeShields
RF Shin-Soo Choo
3B Adrian Beltre
DH Prince Fielder
1B Mike Napoli
LF Josh Hamilton
SS Elvis Andrus
2B Rougned Odor
C Robinson Chirinos
SP Yovani Gallardo
With left-hander David Price on the mound for Toronto the Rangers are going with Mike Napoli at first base over Mitch Moreland. Beyond that it’s a pretty standard lineup for Texas, or at least standard for what manager Jeff Banister used down the stretch once Josh Hamilton was healthy enough to play left field.
LF Ben Revere
3B Josh Donaldson
RF Jose Bautista
DH Edwin Encarnacion
SS Troy Tulowitzki
1B Justin Smoak
C Russell Martin
2B Ryan Goins
CF Kevin Pillar
SP David Price
After returning from the disabled list for the final weekend of the regular season Troy Tulowitzki is in the lineup and batting fifth. That allows Ryan Goins to play second base in place of the injured Devon Travis. Justin Smoak gets the nod over Chris Colabello at first base against a right-hander.