Texas clinched their second consecutive American League West title last Friday with a win over the Seattle Mariners coupled with Los Angeles' loss to Oakland. The Rangers went on to sweep the Mariners as well as the Angels to end the season, finishing the year with a franchise record 96 wins, as well as ending the season on a six game winning streak.
Tampa Bay had a much more improbable path to the playoffs, trailing the Red Sox by nine games on September 1 before gaining ten games on the Red Sox before the end of the season. On Wednesday night, the Rays capped off their improbable comeback. Tampa Bay trailed New York 7-0 headed into the eighth inning before the Rays scored six times in the eighth. Dan Johnson's two out, two strike home run tied the game up before Evan Longoria belted a walk off home run, sending the Rays to the playoffs.
Now, the Rays take their momentum into Arlington for an ALDS rematch.
C.J. Wilson will start Game 1 of the ALDS for the Rangers on Friday. Wilson pitched three times against the Rays this season, going 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA in 21 and 2/3 innings. Further, Wilson struck out 24, while issuing eight walks and allowing only 10 hits.
Rays manager Joe Maddon has yet to make an official decision on who will start Game 1, but there are reports that Jeff Niemann will start for the Rays. Niemann went 11-7 for Tampa Bay this season, posting a 4.06 ERA to go along with a 1.24 WHIP and .250 BAA.
Niemann started two games against the Rangers this year, and lost both of them. Between the two starts, Niemann pitched 9 and 2/3 innings, allowing 12 earned runs on 15 hits and three walks while striking out only five.
First pitch is scheduled for 4:07 p.m. CDT from Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Televised coverage can be found on TBS.