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MLB Preview: AL Wild Card | Game 2 – Texas leads 1-0 – Texas Rangers (1-0) at Tampa Bay Rays (0-1)

TEXAS RANGERS NOTES:

GAME 1 WIN: The Rangers posted a 4-0 win in Tuesday’s A.L. Wild Card Game 1 here at Tropicana Field, ending a 6-game postseason losing streak, 1st playoff win for Texas since 2015 ALDS G2 at TOR…improved Rangers to 5-8 all-time in Game 1 of postseason series (including 2012 A.L. Wild Card Game)…Rangers are 4-4 in Game 1’s on the road.

WINS AND LOSSES: Yesterday’s win ended a 6-G postseason losing streak for Texas that was the 2nd-longest playoff skid in franchise history (0-9 from 1996 ALDS G2-1999 ALDS G3)…club has still lost 9 of last 12 playoff games beginning with 2011 World Series Game 6. Texas is 9-16 (.360) at home and 13-15 (.464) on the road…team has lost 5 straight and 6 of 8 in Arlington, but is 6-6 in last 12 and 9-9 in last 18 at home…club has dropped 4 of 7, 6 of 10, and 10 of last 17 on the road.

WITH A WIN TODAY, Texas would:

  • Win a postseason series for the 1st time since the 2011 ALCS vs. DET, which would end a span of 4 straight defeats in playoff series: 2011 WS vs. STL (4-3), 2012 ALWC vs. BAL (1-0), 2015 ALDS vs. TOR (3-2), and 2016 ALDS vs. TOR (3-0).
  • Improve to 5-8 all-time in postseason series…the 4 previous playoff series wins: 2010 ALDS vs. TB, 2010 ALCS vs. NYY, 2011 ALDS vs. TB, 2011 ALCS vs. DET…the Rangers have clinched each of their 4 previous postseason series wins in 2 locations: Tropicana Field (2) or Globe Life Park (2).
  • Go undefeated in a postseason series for the 1st time in franchise history.

GAME 2: Texas is 6-5 all-time in Game 2’s entering today, having won 4 of 5 and 6 of the last 8…only Game 2 losses since start of 2010 came in 2010 World Series Game 2 at San Francisco and 2016 ALDS Game 2 vs. Toronto…Rangers are 3-4 all-time in road Game 2’s, winning 3 straight: 2011 WS G2 at STL, 2010 ALDS G2 at TB, 2015 ALDS G2 at TOR…that last road Game 2 at Rogers Centre was a 14-inning, 6-4 win.

CHANCE TO CLINCH: The Rangers can clinch a win in this A.L. Wild Card Series vs. Tampa Bay with a win tonight or tomorrow…Texas is 4-10 all-time in games with a chance to clinch a series win, losing 6 in a row beginning with 2011 WS G6 at STL…last time Rangers won a potential series clincher came in club’s last postseason series victory, the 2011 ALCS G6 vs. DET (15-5 win). TEX is 2-5 all-time in 7 road games with a chance to clinch a postseason series, losing last 4 straight beginning with 2011 ALCS G5 at DET, as the only all-time away wins with a chance to close out a series have come here at Tropicana Field: 2010 ALDS G5 and 2011 ALDS G4.

SHUTOUT: Texas posted a 4-0 shutout win in yesterday’s ALWC G1 at TB, just the 4th postseason shutout in franchise history and the 1st such effort in Game 1 of a playoff series…the previous 3 instances: 2010 ALDS G2 at TB (6-0), 2010 ALCS G3 at NYY (8-0), and 2011 WS G4 vs. STL (4-0).

  • Dating back to the end of the regular season, Texas has now allowed one-or-zero runs in 3 straight, 4 of 6, 5 of 8, and 6 of last 10 games.

LUCKY 13: The Rangers’ offense had 13 men left on base in yesterday’s win, tying most ever for TEX in a postseason game (also 2016 ALDS G2 vs. TOR) and most LOB ever in a postseason win for the club…since the start of 2020, the only other club to strand 13+ runners in a 9-inning game was LAD in 2020 NLDS G3 at SD (13 LOB in 12-3 win), a series-clinching game which took place at Globe Life Field.

RAYS UP: For the 3rd time in 9 all-time postseason trips for Texas, the club’s playoff path will involve Tampa Bay…TEX is 6-3 all-time vs. TB in the postseason, 1-3 in Arlington and a perfect 6-0 at Tropicana Field…the previous 2 meetings came in 2010 ALDS (Texas won 3-2) and 2011 ALDS (Texas won 3-1), with clinching win in both series taking place here at The Trop…those 2 series were part of the only postseasons in which the Rangers went to the World Series…the teams also played a game no. 163 Wild Card tiebreaker contest on 9/30/13, a 5-2 Texas loss at Globe Life Park.

ACTIVE POSTSEASON ROAD WIN STREAKS
OF FIVE-OR-MORE GAMES AGAINST ONE OPPONENT
Credit Elias Sports Bureau
G Team Dates Opponent
8 New York-AL 10/4/2003 – 10/7/2019 at Minnesota
7 New York-AL 10/8/1958 – 10/24/1999 at Atlanta
6 Texas 10/6/2010 – 10/3/2023 at Tampa Bay
5 Oakland 10/7/1913 – 10/28/1989 at San Francisco

KID CARTER: Evan Carter made his postseason debut yesterday at age 21 years, 35 days old, going 2-for-2 with 2 doubles, 2 walks, a run scored, and a diving catch in left field…some notes on the rookie:

  • Carter became the youngest batter (21 years, 35 days) in MLB history to reach safely 4+ times in his postseason debut…previous youngest to reach 4+ times in postseason debut: STL’s Dylan Carlson (21.343) in 2020 NLWC G4 at SD (Petco Park)…he was the 1st batter to reach safely 4+ times in his postseason debut since 2020, when both STL’s Dylan Carlson (NLWC G1) and CLE’s Josh Naylor (ALWC G1) both did it.
  • Carter is the 1st Ranger to reach safely 4+ times in a postseason debut, just the 11th in Texas history overall to do it (last Mike Napoli, 5x in 2011 WS G6)…Carter is the 1st player in Texas history with multiple XBH and BB in a postseason game.
  • Carter is just 4th Ranger ever with multiple doubles in a postseason game (1st road instance): Michael Young in 2011 ALCS G6 vs. DET, Adrián Beltré in 2011 ALCS G2 vs. DET, Nelson Cruz in 2010 ALCS G2 vs. NYY.

FULL MONTY: Jordan Montgomery recorded 7.0 SHO IP in yesterday’s ALWC G1 to earn his 1st career postseason victory…became just the 3rd Ranger with at least 7.0 SHO IP in a playoff outing, joining Cliff Lee (8.0 SHO IP in 2010 ALCS G3) and Derek Holland (8.1 SHO IP, 2011 WS G4)… the 3 outings have been part of 3 of the 4 postseason shutouts in Rangers history.

  • According to ESPN, Montgomery’s effort was just the 4th time since 1912 that a team’s midseason acquisition posted 7.0+ SHO IP in a postseason opener…the others: CHC’s Hank Borowy in 1945 WS, CHC’s Rick Sutcliffe in 1984 NLCS, and SEA’s Luis Castillo in 2022 ALWC.

OLD HAT FOR SEAGS: Yesterday was Corey Seager’s 1st postseason game in a Texas uniform, this after Elvis Andrus had started 42 consecutive playoff games at SS for the Rangers from 2010-16…the 2022 campaign was just the 2nd time Seager had missed the postseason in his 1st 9 ML seasons (also 2018 following ‘Tommy John’ surgery)…Seager’s 62 career playoff games rank 11th among active players, more postseason contests than the Rangers have played in franchise history (53).

  • Seager over his last 28 postseason games beginning with 2020 NLDS G 2 vs. SD: .294/.384/.615/.999 (32-109), 9 HR, 8 2B, 25 RBI, 24 R… included in that span are his 7 career postseason games against the Rays, spanning the 2020 WS (Seager was WS MVP) and this 2023 ALWC: .417/.563/.708/1.271 (10-24), 2 HR, 2B, 6 RBI.

TOP TWO: This series features the top 2 finishers in the A.L. batting race during the regular season in Yandy Diaz (.330) and Corey Seager (.327)… according to Elias Sports Bureau, this is only the 3rd postseason series ever in which a league’s top 2 finishers for the batting title faced each other…Elias says the other 2 instances were 1985 NLCS between STL (Willie McGee, .353) and LAD (Pedro Guerrero, .320) and 1999 ALCS between BOS (Nomar Garciaparra, .357) and NYY (Derek Jeter, .349).

WILD CARD: Texas made the 2023 postseason as the 2nd of 3 American League Wild Card teams this season, finishing with the 5th seed out of 6 A.L. playoff teams…this is the team’s 9th trip to the postseason, 2nd as a Wild Card entry (also 2012, lost one-game Wild Card series on 10/5/12 vs. BAL)…club also won A.L. West titles in the other seven seasons: 1996, 1998, 1999, 2010, 2011, 2015, and 2016…this year’s Wild Card berth snaps a 6-year drought without appearing in the postseason…the team had three trips to the playoffs in the franchise’s first 49 years (1961-2009), each of those three in the first 38 seasons after moving to Texas, and have now made it six times in 14 years.

BOCHY BACK IN OCTOBER: Over 9 career postseason appearances as manager, Bruce Bochy is now 45-33 (.577) record spanning 78 contests…
the 45 playoff wins are T5th-most in MLB history, and his .577 win pct. is 5th-best all-time among the 35 managers with at least 5 postseason appearances…he has guided teams to 9 postseason appearances (including 2023), 6 division titles, 4 pennants, and 3 World Series championships…
the 9 postseason appearances are T7th-most in ML history…over his last 54 postseason games, his clubs have a 37-17 (.685) record.

SHORTS: Yesterday was the 7th postseason game in TEX history w/ multiple stolen bases (2), most since 2011 ALCS G6 vs. DET (2 SB)…yesterday’s game lasted just 2:41, 2nd-shortest postseason game in TEX history (2:32 in 2010 WS G5 vs. SF)…Josh Jung’s sac fly yesterday was the 1st by a Ranger in postseason since Hanser Alberto in 2015 ALDS G2 at TOR… Alberto was starting in place of an injured Adrián Beltré in that contest.

ONIGHT’S STARTING PITCHER

POSTSEASON: Has a 2-2 record and 3.14 ERA (15 ER/43.0 IP) with 8 BB/41 SO over 11 games/6 starts in his Postseason career, all with Boston in 2018 and 2021…Sox went 5-1 in his Postseason starting assignments, winning each of first 5 before loss in 2021 ALCS G6 at HOU…marks only time the Red Sox have won each of a pitcher’s first 5 Postseason starts for the club…ranks T5th in Sox history with 4 Postseason wins… in 2018, won both starts (ALDS G3 at NYY; ALCS G3 at HOU) and made 4 relief appearances, posting 1.61 ERA (4 ER/22.1 IP) with 3 BB/16 SO…became the 4th pitcher to throw 6.0+ innings and allow 2 runs or fewer in each of his first 2 career postseason outings, both for BOS…the others are Dutch Leonard (1915- 16), Babe Ruth (1916-18), and Jim Lonborg (1967)…in 2018 WS G3 at LAD, threw 97 pitches in relief during the Sox’ 3-2, 18-inning loss (6.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 SO).

LAST START: Took the loss in his final start of the regular season on 9/29 at SEA (L, 3.1 IP, 5 H, 7 R-ER, 2 BB, 5 SO, 2 HR, 80 pitches/46 strikes), an 8-0 Rangers defeat… allowed season-high 7 R-ER to spike his 2023 ERA from 3.26 to 3.63…was undone by 5-run 4th inning in which he surrendered a game-breaking grand slam to J.P. Crawford.

2023: Went 12-5, 3.63 ERA (58 ER/144.0 IP) with 132 strikeouts over 25 starts in his first season with Texas…had All-Star campaign interrupted by lengthy stint on 15-day Injured List (right forearm strain) from 7/27-9/4…was 11-3, 2.69 (37 ER/123.2 IP) over first 19 starts prior to being placed IL, but went 1-2, 9.30 ERA (21 ER/20.1 IP) across final 6 starts following activation…still finished season ranked among A.L. pitchers (min. 140.0 IP) in opp. BA (5th, .225), H/9 (5th, 7.31), wins (T10th), and ERA (13th).

STAY WINNING: Eovaldi’s 12 wins in 2023 were the 2nd-most of his career (14 in 2015 w/ NYY) and tied for the most by a Rangers pitcher over the last 4 seasons (also 12, Martín Pérez in 2022/Dane Dunning in 2023)…his .706 winning pct. ranked 4th in A.L. (min. 20 GS) to NYY’s Gerrit Cole (.789), BAL’s Dean Kremer (.722), and CLE’s Tanner Bibee (.714)…it was also the 5th-best single-season win pct. ever by a Texas pitcher with at least 25 starts: 762-Derek Holland in 2011, .750-Cole Hamels in 2016, .741-Rick Helling in 1998, .708-Kenny Rogers in 1995, .706-Eovaldi in 2023.

TAMPA TIES: Eovaldi went 3-4, 4.26 ERA (27 ER/57.0 IP) in 10 G/GS for the Rays in 2018 prior to being traded to Boston on 7/25/18 in exchange for LHP Jalen Beeks… owns a lifetime 7-6 record and 3.89 ERA (38 ER/88.0 IP) in 17 G/15 GS vs. TB in the regular season…this will be his 2nd time to face the Rays in the Postseason, also doing so in start for BOS in 2021 ALDS G3, 10/10/21 vs. TB (ND, 5.0 IP, 2 R-ER, 8 SO)…Sox won, 6-4, in a 13-inn. thriller at Fenway Park in that game (walk-off 2-R HR by Christian Vázquez)…went 2-0, 2.92 (4 ER/12/1 IP) in 2 starts vs. Tampa in ‘23: 6/10 at TB (W, 6.1 IP, 7 H, 4 R-ER, 3 BB, 6 SO) and 7/18 vs. TB (W, 6.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 2 SO).

  • Is 4-5, 5.00 ERA (37 ER/66.2 IP) over 13 G/12 GS in his career at Tropicana Field.

ON THE ROAD: Had nearly identical splits in 12 starts at home (6-3, 3.70 ERA) and 13 starts on the road (6-2, 3.56 ERA)…was 1-1, 6.90 ERA (23 ER/30.0 IP) in last 6 away starts (beg. 6/10)…opponents batted .227/.294/.367/.661 (65-286) with 6 HR (0.69 HR/9) on the road vs. .221/.296/.400/.696 (52-235) with 9 HR (1.23 HR/9) at home.

BY THE NUMBERS: Opposing batters slashed .225/.295/.382/.677 (117-521), including reverse splits vs. LHB (.201 BA/.579 OPS) and RHB (.245 BA/.762 OPS)…was one of 4 A.L. pitchers (min. 140.0 IP) to post a ground ball pct. above 50% this season: BOS’ Brayan Bello (56.6%), HOU’s Framber Valdez (55.0%), HOU’s Hunter Brown (52.6%), and Eovaldi (51.5%)…2nd-highest GB pct. of his career (53.2% in 2015 with2 NYY)…
had 4 starts of at least 8.0 IP, T3rd-most in MLB behind only MIA’s Sandy Alcantara (6) and KC’s Jordan Lyles (5)…his 8.25 SO/9 was his lowest mark in that category since 2018 (8.19 with TB/BOS)…fell one out shy of CG SHO on 5/11 at OAK (W, 8.2 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 12 SO, 113 pitches/78 strikes), but established a new career high with 12 SO.

COMPLETE GAMES: Produced complete games on 4/29 vs. NYY (W, 9.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R) and 5/23 at PIT (W, 9.0 IP, 6 H, 1 R-ER), finishing as one of 7 MLB pitchers with multiple complete games in 2023…became the 1st Rangers hurler with multiple CG in a season since Mike Minor in 2019 (2 CG)…shutout on 4/29 vs. NYY was the 1st 9.0-inn. SHO of his career, 1st by a Texas pitcher since Martín Pérez on 5/20/22 at HOU (9.0 SHO IP), and the 1st CG SHO ever by a TEX pitcher at Globe Life Field…he became the 1st native Texan to throw a CG SHO for the Rangers since Roger Pavlik on 9/7/95 vs. CWS (9.0 SHO IP)…it was the 1st CG SHO by a Ranger vs. NYY since Derek Holland on 6/27/13 at Yankee Stadium, and just 4th CG SHO ever by a Ranger against the Yankees in Arlington.

MAY FLOWERS: Eovaldi was named the A.L. Pitcher of the Month for May, the 1st such honor in his career….became just the 7th Texas pitcher to win the award in the last 39 years (beg. 1985), joining Bobby Witt (July 1990), Kenny Rogers (May 1995 and May 2005), Rick Helling (Sept. 1998), and Matt Harrison (June 2012)…posted a 4-0 record with a 0.96 ERA (4 ER/37.2 IP) over 5 G/GS for TEX in May, allowing 1-or-0 R in 4 of his 5 outings…his A.L.-leading 0.96 ERA ranked 2nd-best in MLB among pitchers with 25.0+ IP, and it was just the 7th time in TEX history that a pitcher has recorded an ERA below 1.00 in a full month (min. 30.0 IP)…produced just the 2nd month in TEX history for a pitcher to have a sub-1.00 ERA with a WHIP of 0.85-or-lower (min. 30.0 IP), joining Charlie Hough in September 1983…ranked among A.L. leaders for the month in opponent OPS (2nd, .495), opp. SLG pct. (2nd, .264), innings (3rd, 37.2), WHIP (4th, 0.85), opp. BA (5th, .178), opp. OBP (6th, .232), and HR/9 (6th, 0.48).

STREAKING: Posted career-best 29.2-inning scoreless streak from 4/24-5/17, T5th-longest in Rangers history: 39.0-Kenny Rogers, 5/6-6/1/95; 36.0-Charlie Hough, 8/23-9/14/83; 33.1-Yovani Gallardo, 6/10-7/7/15; 31.0-Rogers, 4/27-5/20/05; 29.2-Eovaldi, 4/24-5/17/23/Jeff Zimmerman, 5/25-8/2/99…recorded 8.0+ SHO IP in 3 straight starts from 4/29-5/6, becoming just the 3rd pitcher in TEX history with 3 consecutive outings of at least 8.0 SHO IP: Martín Pérez (3, 4/13-23/14) and Charlie Hough (3, 8/28-9/7/83)…Eovaldi also struck out 25 batters while issuing just 3 walks over that stretch, just the 6th pitcher in the modern era (since 1900) to have a 3-start span with 25.0+ SHO IP, 25+ SO, and 3-or-fewer walks (credit: STATS)…he was the first MLB pitcher to pull the trick since LAD’s Clayton Kershaw from 7/8-23/15 (26.0 SHO IP, 38 SO, 0 BB), and joined WSH’s Walter Johnson (27.0 SHO IP, 25 SO, 3 BB from 4/19- 30/1913) as the only A.L. pitchers to ever do it.

TAMPA BAY RAYS NOTES:

WIN OR GO HOME — The Rays enter today’s Game 2 needing to win back-to-back games in order to avoid being swept in the postseason for the second time in club history; last year’s 2-0 sweep in an AL Wild Card Series at Cleveland was the first…they last won consecutive postseason contests in Games 2 and 3 of the 2020 ALCS against Houston… the Rays are 10-8 all-time in potential elimination games in the postseason, including 6-3 at home (4-3 at Tropicana Field, 2-0 at neutral site)…they have lost three straight games when facing elimination dating back to Game 6 of the 2020 World Series vs. LAD, the longest streak in club history…they would need to win today in order to set up the ninth “winner take all” postseason game in club history; the Rays are 5-3 in the previous eight. The Rays have lost a club-record six consecutive postseason games, a streak that began with Game 2 of the 2021 ALDS vs. Boston (14-6)…it ties the Reds for the longest active streak in the majors…the Rays are 4-13 in their last 17 postseason games since taking a 3-0 lead over the Astros in the 2020 ALCS. After contributing four scoreless innings yesterday, the Rays bullpen has turned in a 0.64 ERA (14.0IP, 1ER) over the club’s last three postseason games dating back to Game 1 of the 2022 AL Wild Card Series at Cleveland. Ê The Rays were shut out in the postseason for the fourth time yesterday…they have been held scoreless in back-to-back postseason games for the first time… the last team to be shut out in consecutive postseason games was the Brewers in
Games 2 and 3 of the 2021 ALDS against the Braves. The Rays are 28-35 (.444) in postseason play, going 17-15 (.531) as the home team and 11-20 (.355) as visitors…this includes an 11-11 (.500) mark in games hosted at Tropicana Field…under Kevin Cash (since 2015), the Rays are 5-2 in postseason games played in St. Petersburg. Under the Wild Card designation, the Rays have posted a 4-2 record all-time… prior to yesterday’s 4-0 defeat, they won the 2013 Wild Card Game in Cleveland and 2019 Wild Card Game in Oakland before sweeping a 2020 Wild Card Series in Toronto and being swept in a 2022 Wild Card Series in Cleveland last October. The Rays 99 wins were their second most in club history behind 2021 (100-62)… it tied the fifth-most wins by a non-division winner in the Wild Card era (since 1995), trailing the 2021 Dodgers (106), 2001 Athletics (102), 2022 Mets (101) and 2018 Yankees (100). The Rays clinched a Wild Card berth on Sept. 17 and spent the entire 185-day regular season in postseason position from the end of play on March 30 thru Oct. 1, shattering the previous club record of 143 consecutive days (May 11-Sept. 30, 2008).

ROSTER BREAKDOWN — The Rays 26-man AL Wild Card roster features 11 pitchers, two catchers, seven infielders and six outfielders…of the 26 players, 14 were not on the Rays Opening Day active roster: Aranda (minors), Armstrong (injury), Basabe (minors), Caminero (minors), Civale (trade), Devenski (signed), Diekman (signed), Glasnow (injury), Kittredge (injury), Littell (waivers), Mead (minors), Pinto (minors), Stephenson (trade) and Tapia (signed)…only three of the 11 pitchers and 11 of the 26 players were on the Rays 2022 AL Wild Card roster…19 of the 26 have previous postseason experience, including 10 of 11 pitchers (Stephenson).

THE RAY WAY — The Rays made the postseason for the fifth consecutive season, extending the longest streak in franchise history…the Rays are one of two AL teams (Astros) and one of four teams in the majors (Braves, Dodgers) to make the postseason in each of the last five seasons (2019-23)…it marks the ninth postseason berth in franchise history, all in 16 seasons since becoming the Rays in 2008…including this season, only four other clubs have made the postseason at least nine times since 2008: Dodgers (12), Yankees (11), Cardinals (10) and Braves (9). Despite being one of the two youngest franchises in the majors, their run of five consecutive postseason berths represents a streak that has been achieved by only eight of the other 29 franchises: Astros, Athletics, Braves, Cardinals, Dodgers, Guardians, Phillies and Yankees…the current stretch of nine postseason berths in a 16-season span has been replicated at least once by only five of the other 29 major league clubs: the Braves, Cardinals, Dodgers, Red Sox and Yankees (STATS LLC).

ON THE OFFENSIVE — The Rays averaged 5.31 runs per game, second in the AL and fourth in the majors…it was a 1.20 improvement on their 4.11 runs per game in 2022, the largest year-to-year increase in the majors…the Rays offense set club records in runs (860), home runs (230), RBI (827), slugging pct. (.445) and total bases (2,452). Yandy Díaz won the first AL batting title in Rays history with a .330 average, surpassing TEX Corey Seager (.327) on the final day of the regular season. Randy Arozarena became the first player in MLB history to post a 20+ HR, 20+ SB season as a rookie and again in each of the next two seasons (Elias)…paired with Josh Lowe’s 20-30 season, the Rays had multiple 20-20 players for the first time. Six different Rays hitters recorded 20+ HR, the most in club history and tied with the Cubs and Phillies for the second most in the majors behind the Braves (7).

PITCHING PROWESS — The Rays pitched to a 3.86 ERA, fifth in MLB behind the Brewers (3.71), Padres (3.73), Mariners (3.74) and Blue Jays (3.78)…they finished among MLB’s top 10 in ERA for the seventh straight season and within the top five for the fifth straight year. Ê The rotation ranked fifth in the majors with a 3.92 ERA and led baseball with a .684 opponent OPS…the Rays bullpen combined for a 3.80 ERA, ninth in MLB, ranking within the majors’ top 10 in ERA for the fifth consecutive season…from Opening Day thru June 3, their 4.45 ERA ranked 12th in the AL and 24th in the majors…following the mid-season acquisition of Robert Stephenson from the Pirates, the Rays bullpen led the AL and ranked fourth in the majors with a 3.40 ERA from June 4 on.

RAYS AND RANGERS — The Rays and Rangers meet in the postseason for the third time after Texas defeated Tampa Bay in the ALDS in both 2010 (3-2) and 2011 (3-1)…the visiting team has gone 9-1 in the 10 matchups; the 2010 ALDS was the first series in MLB history in which the visiting team won every game…the 10 postseason meetings are the Rays third most against any opponent behind the Red Sox (15G) and Astros (12G). The Rays went 2-4 against them this season (2-1 at home, 0-3 on the road), posting a -2 (27-25) run differential…the Rays have lost three of the last four season series since 2019, going 12-14 overall in that span (clubs did not meet in 2020).

TODAY’S STARTER: RHP ZACH EFLIN (0-0, -.–
TODAY’S START — The right-hander makes his 11th career postseason appearance, including his first start…in his 10 previous outings, all coming
with Philadelphia last season, he posted a 3.38 ERA (10.2IP, 4ER) with 12 strikeouts against two walks. Made his postseason debut in Game 1 of the NL Wild Card Series at St. Louis on 10/7 and tossed 1.0 inning, allowing one run on two hits and one walk with one strikeout…the next day, he earned a save (1.0IP, 2H), sending the Phillies to the NLDS vs. the Braves. Made two appearances in the NLDS (Games 1 & 4) and allowed
three runs across 2.1 innings…made two appearances in the NLCS vs. San Diego (Games 3 & 4) and threw 2.0 scoreless innings. Pitched in Games 1, 4, 5 and 6 of the 2022 World Series vs. Houston and threw 4.1 scoreless innings.

TEXAS TWO-STEP — Eflin made his lone career appearance opposite Texas on 5/17/17…took the loss after allowing seven runs on 11 hits and two
walks with one strikeout across 4.0 innings…the 11 hits allowed matched a career high (also 6/24/19 vs. NYM).

HOME IS WHERE THE HEART IS — He went 11-4 with a 3.30 ERA (103.2IP, 38ER) in 18 starts at Tropicana Field…the 11 home wins led the AL and set a club record, surpassing Blake Snell (10 wins in 2018)…became the first pitcher to earn a win in each of his first eight home starts of a season since STL Adam Wainwright in 2010 (10GS)…since 1901, only 11 pitchers have recorded longer such streaks to open a season, led by Lefty Grove (14GS) in 1931. Eflin was the eighth pitcher since 1901 to earn a win in each of his first eight home starts with a new club, including the first since CHC Rick Sutcliffe (8GS) from 6/24-9/14, 1984. He went 10-1 with a 2.10 ERA (68.2IP, 16) in his first 11 home starts with the Rays, the lowest mark in such a span in club history, ahead of Matt Garza’s 2.47 ERA in 2008…however, in his final seven starts at Tropicana Field, he went 1-3 with a 5.66 ERA (35.0IP, 222ER).

STRONG FINISH — Eflin allowed three runs or fewer in each of his final seven starts, the longest streak of his career…it tied the third-longest season-ending streak by a Rays starter (excluding openers)…during the stretch, he posted a 3.20 ERA (39.1IP, 14ER), with the Rays going 6-1 in those contests.

QUALITY CONTROL — He recorded a career-low 3.4 pct. walk rate, second lowest in MLB behind SEA George Kirby (2.5%) and third lowest by a Rays pitcher in franchise history behind Corey Kluber in 2022 (3.0%) and David Price in 2014 (3.3%)…he has produced the lowest walk rate in the majors since 2020 at 4.1 pct. (min. 1,500BF). Eflin did not allow 10+ hits or 3+ walks in any of his 31 starts… per OptaStats, it marked the most such starts in a season without recording either of those statistics in the modern era (since 1900)… the next closest pitcher is CLE Josh Tomlin in 2016 (29). His 7.75 SO/BB ratio ranked second in the majors and was the second-best mark by a Rays pitcher behind David Price’s 2014
campaign (8.22). Threw a career-high 68.9 pct. of his pitches for strikes, the secondhighest mark in the majors behind MIA Sandy Alcantara (70.1%)… signaled the third-highest percentage in Rays history.

WORK HORSE — His 177.2 innings were the most by a Rays pitcher since Charlie Morton in 2019 (194.2)…he joined Corey Kluber in 2022 (31GS) as the only Rays to make 30+ starts in a season since 2020.

WINNING WAYS — The Rays went 23-8 (.742) in his starts, tied with David Price’s 2014 season (23-8) for the best team winning percentage in a qualified pitcher’s starts in Rays history.

ABOVE THE CURVE — Opponents batted .182 (31-for-170) with 64 SO and a 34.9 pct. whiff rate against his curveball…min. 200 pitches swung at, it marked the sixth-highest whiff rate on any AL pitcher’s curveball.

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