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ALDS Game 4: Rangers Look To Close Out Rays, Advance To ALCS

Matt Harrison starts for the Rangers as Texas looks to advance to the ALCS for the second consecutive year.

One win is all that stands between the Rangers and a return trip to the ALCS -- and the Rangers can notch that victory on Tuesday afternoon. After a nail biting 4-3 win over the Rays in Game 3, the Rangers look to close out the ALDS in four games at Tropicana Field. 

Matt Harrison takes the mound for the Rangers in the potentially decisive game. Harrison enjoyed a career year during the 2011 regular season, posting a 4.2 WAR with the Rangers in 30 starts. Harrison also had a record of 14-9 to go along with a 3.39 ERA, 1.28 WHIP and 3.85 xFIP. 

By all accounts, Harrison surpassed any and all expectations that could have been placed on him headed into this year.

Tampa Bay's Rookie of the Year candidate Jeremy Hellickson will take the mound for Tampa Bay, who looks to stave off elimination and force the series back to Texas. Hellickson went 13-10 during his rookie campaign, posting a 2.95 ERA and 1.15 WHIP. As nice as his ERA was, his xFIP was 4.72 in 2011, and his WAR was only 1.4. This is partially due to the fact that Hellickson was not a strikeout pitcher this season, striking out only 117 in 189 innings on the year.

Hellickson did make one start against the Rangers this year, pitching six innings and allowing two runs on six hits while walking four and striking out for. Hellickson was charged with the loss in that contest.

For the Rangers, a win on Tuesday afternoon would not only punch their ticket to their second straight American League Championship Series, but it would also constitute Texas' fifth straight ALDS road victory -- all coming at Tropicana Field in the past two seasons. The Rangers won all three games in Tampa Bay during the 2010 ALDS, propelling them to the 2010 ALCS.

Should the Rays win, the decisive Game 5 would be held on Thursday at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. If the Rangers win, they'll await the winner of the Yankees/Tigers series -- which the Tigers currently lead two games to one. 

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.