The Texas Rangers, Detroit Tigers and Milwaukee Brewers will all have the chance to secure a spot in the Championship Series round of the 2011 MLB postseason today.
The Rangers and Tigers both won yesterday to lead their respective series 2-1, while the Brewers take a 2-0 lead to Arizona.Â The Phillies and Cardinals are tied at 1-1 as they play Game Three of their series today.
Rangers-Rays (Rangers lead the series 2-1)
The Rangers get the first crack at making it through with an early start against the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday.Â Game Four of their series begins at 19.07 BST and will be broadcast live on ESPN America.Â
Texas used a four-run seventh inning to win Game Three 4-3, leaving rookie Desmond Jennings’ two homers for the Rays counting for nothing.Â The Rays will look to another rookie to help them stave off elimination in Game Four.Â
Jeremy Hellickson is the frontrunner for Rookie of the Year honours following his impressive season in the Rays’ starting rotation and he willÂ aim to continue that positive form in his first postseason start. The Rangers will counter with Matt Harrison, who made a brief appearance out of the bullpen in Game One.
If the Rangers are able to win tonight, they will be celebrating in a stadium that makes for an odd setting on TV. It always seems strange when the TV broadcast shows pictures of glorious sunny Florida weather, only to then cut to the dour in-door surroundings of the domed arena that is Tropicana Field.Â
Normally I would be glad to miss the scenes of October sunshine that seem to poke fun at us Brits gathering in the impending gloom of nights drawing in and tumbling temperatures.Â However, our recent glorious weather has meant jealousy could have been avoided this year.Â
I’m sure the Rays’ players, fans and owners would love to be playing outdoors, but an open-air ballpark for the Rays doesn’t appear to be on the cards in the near future. Sadly it looks like they will be the ones suffering from the green-eyed monster as the Miami Marlins move into their new home next year.Â
Yankees – Tigers (Tigers lead the series 2-1)
As for the Detroit Tigers, they are on the brink of knocking out the Yankees following their 5-4 victory yesterday.Â Justin Verlander won the highly-anticipated pitching duel with CC Sabathia, leaving the Yankees in the unenviable position of relying on A.J. Burnett in Game Four to keep their season alive.Â
Manager Joe Girardi has confirmed that Burnett will be facing a short hook if he starts getting into any sort of trouble. I’m sure there are plenty of Yankee fans hoping that the hook is not only short but sharp and pointy as well. Game Four starts at 01.37 a.m. and it will be live on ESPN America once the Phillies-Cardinals game is completed.
Brewers – Diamondbacks (Brewers lead the series 2-0)
It Â looked like Â home-field advantage could be important in this series due to the two teams’ impressive home records during the regular season.Â Â The Brewers won the race to host theÂ first two games at Miller Park and they took advantage by winning them both.
Now the Diamondbacks need toÂ do the same in GamesÂ Three and Four atÂ Chase Field to send it back to Milwaukee, while the Brewers are tantalizingly close to making it through.Â Shaun Marcum and Josh Collmenter are the scheduled starting pitchers in Game Three, with first pitch set for 02.37 a.m.
Phillies – Cardinals (Series tied at 1-1)
This is theÂ one series that isn’t producing a potential decider tonight andÂ fewÂ would have predicted that after the early innings of Game Two.Â
The Phillies were the overwhelming favourtites heading into the series.Â They took the opener on Saturday 11-6 behind Roy Halladay and then jumped out toÂ a 4-0 lead after three innings in Game Two with ace number two Cliff Lee on the mound.Â The Cardinals’ comeback to win 5-4 was as impressive as it seemed unlikely.Â Now that they are in St. Louis with the series tied at 1-1, it really is all to play for.Â
Cole Hamels and Jaime Garcia will toe the rubber in Game Three, starting at 22. 07.Â ESPN America will join the game either as it starts or, more likely, once the Rangers-Rays game comes to an end.