Playoff Notes on the Eve of Game One
Murphy Still Sore but Should Be on the Roster
Rangers outfielder David Murphy, nursing a mild groin strain, was encouraged after Monday's workouts but admits he's being very careful because of a MLB rule in regards to postseason rosters.
If Murphy gives the Rangers the all clear and aggravates the injury forcing his removal he will not be eligible for the ALCS roster should the Rangers advance past the Rays.
Rangers manager Ron Washington told the media today he thinks Murphy will be fine, especially since the earliest he will start would be game three on Saturday in Arlington.
Washington also said Julio Borbon would start in game two.
Rangers Not Concerned with Road Record
The Rangers have been in Tampa Bay for less than two days and are already tired of hearing about their road record, and frankly they should be.
The Rangers are in fact 0-12 in the home parks of the other AL playoff teams, but none of those games suggest the Rangers can't win in those cities now that they're in the playoffs.
The sweep in New York happened in mid-April before the Rangers overcame their usual slow start under Washington to take control of the AL West. The sweep in Minnesota was before the trade of Cliff Lee and included an injury shortened start by Derek Holland.
The sweep in Tampa Bay was ruined by defensive issues from a player that is no longer with the Rangers and was due in large part to an offense missing a third of its best hitters.
The Rangers are at full strength now and will throw their best pitchers at the Rays in every game of the series, there's no reason to think things can't be different this time around.
Cantu, Francoeur to Start Game One
Not much of a surprise here with Rays lefty David Price starting in game one, but Jorge Cantu and Jeff Francoeur will both be in the Rangers lineup for the series opener.
Cantu and Francoeur both finished the season swinging the bats well and the Rangers are hoping they can provide a spark for the rest of the order.
Mitch Moreland and Julio Borbon are both candidates to come off the bench late in the game as a pinch runner or defensive replacement if the Rangers hold a small lead late.
Its doubtful Washington would use either player as a pinch hitter.
Getting Used to Tropicana Field
Tropicana Field is notorious for weird things happening to the baseball with its ridiculous catwalks and Astroturf playing surface.
MLB made things a little easier for everyone by changing the ground rules for the catwalks for the playoffs.
Now if a ball hits the A and B catwalks it will be ruled a dead ball and the pitch will not count as opposed to counting as a base hit or an out depending on if the ball is caught.
The C and D catwalks are beyond the outfield fence so balls that strike those catwalks will still be ruled home runs.
Despite the rule change the Rangers arrived in Tampa Bay on Monday and will utilize as much time as possible before the opener on Wednesday getting used to the park and how it plays.
The team is also using the two days leading up to Game One to mentally prepare for what will be the first postseason series for most of the players.