Score and Situation: Texas Rangers 5, Tampa Bay Rays 1, Texas leads series 1-0
Leading lads: Seeing Cliff Lee's(notes) name in this spot has become something of a Big League Stew postseason tradition, but Jeff Francoeur(notes) and Bengie Molina(notes)?
Well, there's a first time for everything and the two midseason acquisitions deserve to share the spotlight after priming the Rangers' offense on Wednesday. Francoeur recorded the first RBI of the 2010 postseason when he singled home Ian Kinsler(notes) in the second inning while Molina went 3-for-4 from the lineup's No. 9 spot. His fourth-inning homer was his first since July 16.
Lee, meanwhile, was his usual October self, pitching seven innings of one-run ball while striking out 10 and walking none. His lone mistake was allowing a solo shot to Ben Zobrist(notes).
And to think some were worried about his late-season struggles ...
: Tampa Bay starter David Price(notes)
didn't bring his 2008 ALCS- or 2010 regular-season-type stuff, giving up five runs and nine hits in 6 2/3 innings of work. In addition to the Bengie and Frenchy damage, Price also surrendered a third-inning homer to Nelson Cruz(notes)
(above) and a fifth-inning RBI double to Vladimir Guerrero(notes).
The biggest offenders in the Rays' lineup were B.J. Upton(notes), Carlos Pena and Rocco Baldelli(notes), who went a combined 0-for-10 with seven strikeouts.
Key play: Lee struck out Baldelli with the bases loaded to escape the bottom of the first inning unscathed. The punchout came just after a K of Pena, kept the Rays off the scoreboard and set the tone for the rest of the day.
Key stat: As Aaron Gleeman notes, Lee's postseason record is now 5-0 with a 1.52 ERA and a 43/6 strikeout-to-walk ratio over six starts. Surely those numbers won't be brought up in Lee's free-agent talks this winter.
What they'll be talking about: A lot has been made about the dropoff from Lee and the other Ranger starters. But now that Price has taken his turn and lost, can James Shields(notes) and Matt Garza(notes) experience success against that loaded Texas lineup? Tampa Bay's fate now rests in their arms.
What's next: Texas will look to take a commanding 2-0 lead when Game 2 starts Thursday afternoon at 2:37 ET. Scheduled starters are Shields for Tampa Bay and C.J. Wilson(notes) for Texas.
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