Date: Sunday, October 2nd, 2016
Rangers Record: (95-65, AL West Champions)
Home-Field Magic Number: Clinched. They’ve clinched everything. Home-field forever
Opponent: Tampa Bay Rays
Tonight’s Starters: Chase Whitley (0-0, 1.74) vs. Martin Perez (10-11, 4.37)
Had the circumstances been different, this would have been the final Baseball Texas Daily of 2016. As it stands, it is just the final one of the regular season. We’ll take a day off tomorrow to breathe in the sweet air of victory, then we’ll be back on Tuesday and Wednesday, and every day thereafter until elation or agony take us home.
It’s the October 2nd Baseball Texas Daily!
I’ve gotten into a great bad habit lately: watching baseball while listening to classical music. I’ll find myself looking down at the phone once in awhile, thinking “oh, this is perfect baseball music, who is this?” and it has consistently been two composers (for two different reasons). Frédéric Chopin is the first, but it strikes me that his name is likely not an unfamiliar one to most people. So today, I will recommend the other: Erik Satie. You’ve probably heard his songs before, but maybe not his name. Start with 3 Gymnopédies, and go from there.
(Spotify, Apple Music, Wikipedia)
Occasionally these recommendations come from Rangers players, broadcasters, or other people around the team (here’s a complete list). If there’s a player or person you’d like Levi to ask for a music recommendation, shoot him an e-mail email@example.com or a tweet here.
1. The Rangers lost to the Rays last night by a score of It Didn’t Matter to Not Even A Little, and here’s a spoiler: regardless of who wins today’s game, the score will be the same.
2. Elvis Andrus is hitting .304, and with the plan today (as it has been with the regulars this weekend) to get two at-bats and then get some rest, he will – for the first time in his career – hit .300. This was a stated goal of his from Spring Training. Adrian Beltre was happy to talk about Elvis’ accomplishment.
“I’m really proud of him. I told him from the beginning that he should be a .300 hitter. He works hard, he has a good swing, he’s smart, and he can hit at pretty much any part of the lineup,” Beltre said, before glancing over at Elvis’ locker and smiling “...besides fourth or third.”
Beltre went on: “He has a better swing than I do; (better than) a lot of veterans, a lot of guys in here. His recognition of the strike zone - he can walk like a lot of guys do, but he can control the bat unbelievably(...) there’s no doubt that he should be doing this every year.”
Elvis’ manager held a similar sentiment: “It’s a significant milestone for him and his career,” Jeff Banister told us, later explaining what has enabled Elvis to have such a successful year, crediting Andrus’ more focused, driven, and motivated approach: “The dedication to be disciplined to think that way. To be stubborn in his thought process. The ability to hold onto one thought, one thing, and not get off of it. And then the other part is to have a complement of coaches and players that have surrounded themselves around him, to help insulate him and allow him to do one thing, and that’s go out and play the game. I think the belief system in having all those people around you that continually tell you that they believe in you, and they’re not going to allow you to be distracted, is a huge factor in this process (but) ultimately, it comes down to him and him alone, in the sense that he holds the bat, he holds the glove, he’s gotta go out and play, and be stubborn with his focus and discipline.”
3. Martin Perez starts for the Rangers tonight, and while the win/loss will have no impact on what comes next, Perez has his own personal goal that he could accomplish tonight: he comes into the game just 4⅓ innings shy of 200 for the season. I have lost count of the number of times I’ve heard Perez mention 200 innings as an aim for him. Expect him to be very motivated to stay in the game until at least the fifth inning.
4. As far as the postseason roster goes, Banister isn’t revealing his cards yet. Some of the obvious decisions have been made (Good news: Adrian Beltre is in no risk of being left off the roster), but the finer details are still in the works. Specifically, Banister told us today, while he still prefers to have an 8-man bullpen, the construction of the bench will take precedent. More specifically, the “Defender/Runner” position off the bench. The options there, of course, are Delino DeShields, Jared Hoying, and Ryan Rua. DeShields is a faster runner, Hoying is traditionally seen as a better fielder, and Rua has a bit more pop in his bat and is a good/smart baserunner. Banister said if he thinks he can get Defender/Runner from one guy, that domino would lead to the flexibility to carry 8. Doing that, Banister said, would allow him to use Alex Claudio at any point in the game. If “Defender” and “Runner” are two different people, that may lead to carrying 7 in the bullpen, which would mean that Claudio would slot into a more traditional “long man” role. It’s a fascinating conversation, and when first pitch isn’t bearing down on me (Tuesday?) I might transcribe the whole conversation for you.
5. The Mariners were eliminated last night with a loss to the A’s, so we are down to three teams remaining for two spots in the AL Wild Card. More on that below, in the….
POSTSEASON / ELIMINATION CHECK
(Lead, Magic # in Parenthesis)
So long, Seattle. Here’s the tiebreaker scenarios you all want to know:
1. If the Tigers win and the Blue Jays AND Orioles lose, Detroit will be a half-game back, and will fly to Cleveland to play a make-up game. If they win that, three teams will be tied for the Wild-Card, and the ALDS could be pushed back a day, to start Friday. If the Blue Jays AND the Orioles win, or if the Tigers lose, they are eliminated, and would not have to play the make-up game. UNLESS...
2. If Boston (93-68) and Cleveland (93-67) BOTH win, or BOTH lose, or if Boston wins and Cleveland loses, the make-up game will be BACK ON, because they would need to play a game to determine home-field advantage for the first round of the playoffs. Boston holds the tiebreaker, so if they win, and the Indians lose, the tiebreaker would be unnecessary, since the best Cleveland could hope to do is tie.
Meanwhile, in the National League, if the Cardinals win and the Giants lose, they will have to play each other in a Game 163 to see who travels to New York to face the Mets.
AL DIVISION LEADERS: Texas (C), Cleveland (C), Boston (C)
AL WILD CARD: Baltimore/Toronto (1.5, 1)
NL DIVISION LEADERS: Los Angeles (C), Chicago (C), Washington (C)
NL WILD CARD: NY Mets (C) San Francisco (1.0, 1)
AL Eliminated, Wild Card: Everyone but Detroit
NL Eliminated, Wild Card: Everyone but St. Louis
AL First-Round Matchups:
Texas (home) vs. Wild Card team, beginning Oct. 6th
Boston vs. Cleveland (home-field TBD), beginning Oct. 6th
NL First-Round Matchups:
Chicago Cubs (home) vs. Wild Card team, beginning Oct 7th
Washington (home) vs. Los Angeles, beginning Oct. 7th
You can follow Levi Weaver on Twitter at @ThreeTwoEephus, or for fewer puns and more straight-forward Baseball News updates, you can follow us at @BaseballTX, or download the app and get in-game updates and notifications by clicking on the logo below!
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