Best-of-Three.

They were five-and-a-half feet under, left for baseball dead, battled back in historically far-fetched fashion to steal the Wild Card spot on the final day of the season, headed out on the road and punished a Number One in the Number One's house.

Tampa Bay did it to C.J. Wilson on Friday, and St. Louis did it to Cliff Lee last night.

There are no givens in the playoffs. After surviving a six-month grind, the reality that it can all come to an abrupt end in less than a week in a Best-of-Five hardly even sinks in until your team is staring at match point.

Neither Texas nor Tampa Bay is in that position yet, and both teams have reason to feel good about where they stand at this point, but what we're now down to is a Best-of-Three.

The first two of those three are at Tropicana Field, today and tomorrow, but the Rangers had three of those on last year's ALDS schedule, too, and won all three of them.

The Rays send the great David Price to the hill, but Texas tends to beat up on him.

The Rangers give the ball to 2011 enigma Colby Lewis, but he hasn't allowed a Rays run in 13 innings the last two years: a five-inning scoreless stint in last year's ALDS Game Three and an eight-inning blanking in Tampa Bay on June 1 of this year.

They're still David Price and Colby Lewis, though.

But regardless of which way you want to look at today's Game Three matchup, as the Rays and Cardinals proved against Wilson and Lee in the last few games, these games aren't bound to formula. It's who plays the best baseball, Wash says, not who the best team is. And as we've seen, it's who pitches the best baseball game, and that's not always necessarily the consensus best pitcher.

This could go any way. Time to see who steps up to be the best of three.

 
title_authors

Jamey Newberg

Dallas attorney Jamey Newberg has been commenting on Rangers from the big club down through the entire farm system since 1998.

Scott Lucas

Scott Lucas was born in Arlington, Texas, to Richard and Becky Lucas. He lived mostly in Arlington before moving to Austin, where he graduated from The University of Texas. Scott works for Austin Valuation Consultants, Ltd., and has published several boring articles about real estate appraisal and environmental contamination. He makes a swell margarita and refuses to run longer than ten kilometres.

Eleanor Czajka

Eleanor grew up watching the AAA Mudhens in Toledo, Ohio. A loyal Ranger fan since 1979, she works "behind the scenes" at the Newberg Report.

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