The Tampa Bay Rays and Texas Rangers are slated to get the opening game of the ALDS underway on Friday night. Interestingly enough, the Rangers have already started making moves that probably weren't in the Rays' early gameplan.
The two sides will kickoff the MLB Playoffs with the lead-in of a TBS doubleheader that will feature the Detroit Tigers and New York Yankees playing the nightcap, according to the 2011 ALDS Schedule. That said, the match-up between the Rays and Rangers gets an earlier than usual start as the first pitch is slated to be thrown at 5:07 p.m. ET.
The person throwing that first pitch will probably be under quite a bit of scrutiny as the Rays decided that rookie Matt Moore would be the opening game's starting pitcher, despite having just one previous Major League start under his belt. The move, as MLB Nation's Grant Bisbee noted, isn't exactly unprecedented -- but it isn't what most expected manager Joe Maddon to do, either.
On the other end of the spectrum, the Rangers will trot out C.J. Wilson as their Game 1 starter. Wilson started 33 more games than his counterpart during the regular season, compiling a 16-7 record and a 2.94 ERA while pitching three complete games this year.
It should be interesting to see if the Rays are able to build on the momentum they ended the regular season with after narrowly squeaking into postseason in what was one of the most spectacular days of baseball -- ever. They only had one day to refocus their efforts before heading to Texas, though, so that could also play a part in the opening game of the MLB Playoffs.
For a Beyond the Boxscore perspective of the game, be sure to check out Bill Petti's preview of the game. To join in the discussion, it would also make sense to check out our Tampa Bay Rays blog DRaysBay as well as the always excellent Rangers blog Lone Star Ball.