2015 ALDS: Texas Rangers at Toronto Blue Jays Preview

The roof will be closed in the “Ole SkyDome” this afternoon for Game #1 of the ALDS between the visiting Texas Rangers and home town Toronto Blue Jays. Blue Jays ace David Price will face Rangers starter, Yovani Gallardo, and if history repeats itself this game isn’t a gimme for Price and the Jays as Gallardo has dominated the Jays this season.

Toronto will take the field turf at Rogers Centre today for what will be their first postseason game in 22 years. Flashback to 1993 when Wichita State All American Joe Carter hit a walk-off homer against Philadelphia to won the 1993 World Series. This Toronto franchise hasn’t been part of Major League Baseball’s postseason since that momentous event.

Texas has overachieved his 2015 season. The Rangers were not a team that was projected to be playing in October. In fact, most believed this team would finish last, or near the bottom, in a division that carries the Los Angeles Angels, Oakland Athletics, Seattle Mariners and Houston Astros. The Rangers won just 67 games in 2014 but improved their record by 21 games finishing this year’s campaign with 87 wins.

Gameday Vitals
Texas Rangers at Toronto Blue Jays (-200, 7.5)
Time: 3:30 PM ET, Thursday, October 8, 2015
Venue: Rogers Centre, Toronto, Ontario
Weather: Dome will be closed for today’s Game #1 in the best-of-five ALDS series

Rangers
It wasn’t a tough decision who would start the opening game of this ALDS series in Toronto, at least not according to Texas manager Jeff Bannister, who said because of right-hander Yovani Gallardo’s history, and success this season (defeating Toronto twice in 13 2/3 scoreless innings). Gallardo started the only two victories the Rangers had against the Blue Jays in six meetings this season. He was 2-2 with a porous 4.85 ERA in six September starts but his success against the disruptive Blue Jays batting order made him the easy Game 1 write-in.

“I just go up there and pitch my game,” Gallardo said at the team’s Tuesday press conference. “They know the way I pitch. It seems like I have faced those guys throughout my career. It’s not easy.”

Blue Jays
Trade deadline acquisition David Price was penciled in to start the opening test of this five-game series and while this, too, was an easy decision for Blue Jays manager John Gibbons, the former Tampa Bay Ray and Detroit Tigers doesn’t have the same successful history. Not against the Texas Rangers current lineup or in postseason play.  Price is 0-5 with a 4.98 ERA in five playoff starts.

Regardless of Price’s history versus the Rangers or in postseason starts couldn’t trump the southpaw’s 9-1 record with a 2.30 ERA in 11 starts for the Blue Jays after being acquired from Detroit.  If there is a question mark entering today’s Game #1 test it would be the length of time between today’s turn and his last trip to the mound, an 11 day layoff. Price has a history of dealing with early inning command issues which has always been attributed to extra rest or rust.

Price hasn’t pitched since allowing five runs in five innings in a September 26th start against Tampa Bay. The Toronto lefty did register a 9-1 mark for the Jays after the July 31 trade deadline but the lefty is just 3-4 with a 5.15 ERA in 11 career regular-season outings against the Rangers. Additionally, as a Tampa Bay Devil Ray, Price was 0-3 with a 4.66 ERA in three postseason starts against Texas.

ALDS Game 1
Projected lineups:

Blue Jays:
Ben Revere – LF
Josh Donaldson – 3B
Jose Bautista – RF
Edwin Encarnacion – DH
Troy Tulowitzki – SS
Justin Smoak – 1B
Russell Martin – C
Ryan Goins – 2B
Kevin Pillar – CF

Rangers:
Delino DeShields – Cf
Shin-Soo Choo – RF
Adrian Beltre – 3B
Prince Fielder – DH
Mike Napoli – 1B
Elvis Andrus – SS
Josh Hamilton – LF
Rougned Odor – 2B
Robinson Chirinos – C

Outlook
This preview highlighted the starting pitchers for the two American League division winners. However, Toronto scored double-digit runs 26 times this season, the most since St. Louis and Atlanta in 2003.

Toronto won’t speak it publically but they know that their pitching isn’t going to carry them to three wins in a five-game series, or even four wins in a seven-game slate.  The Jays division winning trademark in 2015 is offense. AL MVP candidate Donaldson is protected in the lineup by sluggers Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion, with Troy Tulowitzki and catcher Russell Martin close behind.

Blue Jays SS Troy Tulowitzki (shoulder) is still not 100 percent but declared himself ready for the series opener today. Good practice, for sure, but

“Our lineup is legit,” Donaldson told the Toronto media on Monday. “One through nine, I feel like we have probably the best lineup in baseball.”

Texas is another American League club that won’t live on pitching alone. Texas finished third in the majors with 751 runs in their surprise 2015 campaign and was led by the September surge of LF Shin-Soo Choo who was the AL Player of the Month batting .404 with five homers and 20 RBI.

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