From his deathbed in 1920, Notre Dame football legend George Gipp uttered the famous words to coaching legend Knute Rockne:
“Win just one for the Gipper.”
And while no one on the 2013 Texas Rangers is uttering words from his deathbed (knock on wood), that’s the mentality the Rangers need to take into the last day of the regular season Sunday. They need to ‘win just one [more] for the Gipper.’
The Gipper, in this case, being Alex Rios.
Rios may not yet be a legend in the annals of Rangers franchise history like the versatile Gipp was to the Fighting Irish in 1920, playing multiple positions and earning All-American honors.
But Rios certainly has been great for the Rangers. And if there’s one guy for whom they need to win one, it’s him.
Rios has never played in a playoff game. Sunday will mark his 1,454th regular season game over ten years, but the talented right fielder has never been a part of the postseason. And while he has been a member of the Rangers since Aug. 10, and witnessed the collapse in early September, Rios has played like he wants to make that first postseason appearance.
The Rangers entered last Monday’s game with no control over their playoff destiny, and the mentality that they needed to win each of their seven remaining games. Rios said before the final home stand that his team knew it had to win out.
And boy has he played like it.
Through six of the final seven games in Arlington, Rios is batting .364 (8-for-22) with eight RBI and three stolen bases. And a cycle, just for good measure.
Rios has been solid in his short tenure with Texas – a .281 batting average with 25 RBI and 16 stolen bases in 45 games – but he has risen to the occasion when his team needed a seven-game win streak. And that team is 85 percent of the way there.
So if the Rangers for some reason need any motivation to put runs on the board behind Yu Darvish Sunday, they can look to their right fielder. To getting him into the postseason.
Because he deserves it.
Wild Card Scenarios
The Rangers and Rays are tied for the second Wild Card spot, one game behind the Indians. To boil it down, if the Rangers win, they’re guaranteed at least a one-game tiebreaker.
If the Rangers win and Tampa Bay loses, the Rangers will be the second-place Wild Card team, and play in Cleveland Wednesday. Texas cannot earn the top Wild Card spot because of tiebreakers with Cleveland.
If all three teams win, or if Tampa Bay and Texas both lose, the Rangers and Rays will play a one-game tiebreaker in Arlington Monday to determine the second Wild Card spot.
If Texas and Tampa Bay both win, and Cleveland loses, it will be the first-ever three-way tie for the top two spots. Cleveland would host Tampa Bay Monday for the first Wild Card spot, and the loser of that game will play in Arlington Tuesday to determine the second-place team.
If Texas loses and Tampa Bay wins, the Rangers would not qualify for the playoffs.