So, what are the Rangers up against?

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On the one hand I want to be at least somewhat optimistic about the Rangers chances. I mean, there’s no way that Ron Washington can screw up the bullpen so badly a second time in one series, right?  There’s no way that a formidable Rangers lineup will remain so utterly impotent, right?  There’s no way they won’t do a lot more damage against lefties Jonathan Sanchez and Madison Bumgarner — at home no less — than they could do against Lincecum and Cain, right?

But then I look at the numbers and realize how dire things truly are:

  • Teams have taken a 2-0 lead in the World Series 51 times.  Forty of those teams went on to win it;
  • The last 11 teams that took a 2-0 lead at home have gone on to win it;
  • The last three teams to take a 2-0 lead in the World Series went on to win the thing in a sweep.

I mean, sure, you can point to the 1996 Yankees who went down 2-0 at home and went on to steamroll the Braves in the next four, but they were rather exceptional for that very reason. And, in hindsight, that was the beginning of a sustained run of excellence for the Yankees, the likes we haven’t seen since Mickey Mantle’s day. The exception that proved the rule, as it were. Unless the Giants sign Mark Wohlers between now and Sunday I don’t know that the 1996 Yankees’ example is very instructive.

So get the antlers and the claws ready, Rangers fans. Be prepared to scream your head off.  But likewise be prepared for this thing to end poorly, because it usually does for teams in the Rangers’ shoes.

Mike Moustakas sets Royals single-season record with 37th home run

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Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas belted his 37th home run on Wednesday evening, setting a new club record for homers in a single season. Moustakas had been tied with Steve Balboni, who hit 36 home runs in 1985.

The home run came on a 2-0, 82 MPH slider from Blue Jays reliever Carlos Ramirez, boosting the Royals’ lead to 13-0 in the top of the sixth inning.

Moustakas, 29, entered the night batting .271/.313/.523 with 82 RBI and 71 runs scored in 560 plate appearances.

Chris Sale records his 300th strikeout this season

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Red Sox starter Chris Sale recorded his 300th strikeout of the 2017 season on Wednesday night against the Orioles. The momentous occasion occurred with two outs in the eighth inning. Facing Ryan Flaherty, Sale threw a slider that caught the strike zone low and inside for called strike three.

Sale and Clayton Kershaw (2015) are the only pitchers to strikeout 300-plus batters in a season in the last 15 years. Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson accomplished the feat in 2002, and Johnson also did it in 2001 and 2000. Pedro Martinez had been the only other Red Sox pitcher to have a 300-strikeout season.

Through eight scoreless innings, Sale limited the Orioles to four hits with no walks and 13 strikeouts. The Red Sox offense gave him plenty of run support. Mookie Betts and Devin Marrero each hit two-run home runs in the fourth. Hanley Ramirez added a two-run double in the sixth and Dustin Pedroia hit a two-run double of his own in the eighth to make it 8-0.