A Look to the Past: 2010 ALDS


Every week, I look through the weekly match-ups and find one that is a postseason rematch. This week, the Texas Rangers are taking on the Tampa Bay Rays, which is a rematch of last year’s Division Series that went five games.

2010 American League Division Series:
Texas Rangers 3, Tampa Bay Rays 2

Key stories surrounding this series:
The Rays came into this series just having won their second American League East title in three years. The season wasn’t without some difficulties however. Their offense was especially prone to being completely shutdown. In 2009, Mark Buehrle of the White Sox threw a perfect game. In 2010, Dallas Braden also threw a perfect game against the eventual division champs. Later in the season, Arizona’s Edwin Jackson off the Diamondbacks added a no-hitter. Brandon Morrow of the Blue Jays nearly duplicated the feat, taking a no-hitter into the ninth, but having to settle for a one-hitter in which he struck out 17 Rays. Despite that, the Rays scored nearly five runs a game, good for third in the American League.

The Texas Rangers won the AL West title for the first time since 1999. They were led by  the 2010 American League MVP Josh Hamilton, who despite missing the final month of the season hit 32 homers with 100 runs batted in. Their key acquisition was Cliff Lee acquired from the Mariners in mid-season. Despite only going 4-6 during the regular season with Texas, Lee gave the Rangers a viable ace going into postseason play.

The Games:
Cliff Lee was every bit the ace that the Rangers hoped he would be when they acquired him. In Game One, he threw seven strong innings, only allowing a homer to Ben Zobrist. Rays’ ace David Price was not so sharp. He allowed homers to Nelson Cruz and Bengie Molina and the Rangers rolled to a 5-1 victory. C.J. Wilson followed Lee’s performance by helping shut out the Rays 6-0. James Shields, who was a surprise pick by Rays’ manager Joe Maddon to start Game Two, game up four runs in 4.1 innings. The key blow was a three run homer by Michael Young off of reliever Chad Qualls. On the previous pitch, it appeared that Young had swung at strike three, but umpire Jerry Meals concluded that he held up in time.

Having won two games in Tampa Bay, the Rangers felt confident they would take the series at home. However the Rays took the pair of games in Texas. Tampa Bay’s dormant offense finally awakened in the eighth inning of Game Three as they erased a 2-1 Texas lead to win 6-3. In Game Four, the Rays built a 5-0 lead behind starter Wade Davis and held on for a 5-2 win.

Everything changed when the series returned to Tampa. Cliff Lee was back on the hill, shutting down the Rays offense. One would have thought that the Rangers would be tentative having blown the lead in the series, but they came out running the bases aggressively against a normally sound Rays’ defense. Rangers’ shortstop Elvis Andrus singled to lead off the game, stole and second and then scored from second on a groundout. The DH, Vladimir Guerrero made a similarly daring baserunning play when he scored from second on a double play attempt. This was more than enough for Lee who finished off the Rays himself 5-1.

MVP: There is no MVP chosen in Division Series play, but it no doubt would have been Cliff Lee.

Fun Facts:
The 2010 ALDS became the first series in postseason in which the road team won every game. Also, the Rangers became the first team to win a series without ever having won a postseason game at home, having lost their first six postseason games at the Ballpark in Arlington.

In two of the five games, the Rays committed two errors, something they have yet to do this year.