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Rays try to stave off elimination Tuesday
By: Nick Bracken - StatFox
Published: 10/4/2011  at  7:25:00 AM
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ALDS Game 4 - Texas leads series 2-1
First pitch: Tuesday, 2:05 p.m. EDT
Line: Texas -105, Tampa Bay -105, Total: 8

The Tampa Bay Rays look to even the series in an elimination Game 4 against the Texas Rangers on Tuesday afternoon. Texas took a 2-1 lead in the series by beating David Price and the Rays 4-3 on their home turf Monday night.

Making his first postseason start for Texas will be lefty Matt Harrison (14-9, 3.39 ERA). Harrison ended the regular season sizzling hot, going 4-0 with a 2.64 ERA in his final five starts. Opposing Harrison will be Jeremy Hellickson (13-10, 2.95 ERA). Hellickson has only faced Texas once (Aug. 30), throwing six innings and allowing two runs on six hits, but was charged with the loss in a 2-0 defeat. Texas has had problems coming off one-run wins, going 7-12 (-11.5 Units) in the following game. Tampa Bay has handled lefty starters well this year, going 32-20 (+13.5 Units) against them, and is also 51-31 when labeled a favorite of -100 to -150. The Rays have played great with their backs against the wall all year, and not much will change on Tuesday afternoon as TAMPA BAY will even up the series.

This pair of three-star FoxSheets trends also backs the Rays.

Play On - All teams when the money line is +125 to -125 (TAMPA BAY) - below average hitting team (AVG <=.265) against a good starting pitcher (ERA <=4.20) -AL, starting a pitcher who walked 4+ hitters each of his last 2 outings. (41-18 since 1997.) (69.5%, +25.3 units. Rating = 3*).

Play Against - Road teams with a money line of -100 to -150 (TEXAS) - good offensive team - scoring >=5.2 runs/game on the season (AL), after 2 straight wins by 2 runs or less. (55-30 since 1997.) (64.7%, +31.3 units. Rating = 3*).

Harrison pitched two-thirds of an inning in relief in Game 1, allowing one run in the 9-0 loss on Friday. Harrison’s lone career start against the Rays was all the way back in 2008 when he threw a gem, tossing eight shutout innings and allowing just three hits in a 3-0 victory. The Rangers are known to be a very good power team (2nd in majors with 210 HR), but have been out-homered so far in the series 7-2. Texas needs its big bats to come alive to finish off the fighting Rays.

This is technically Hellickson’s first playoff start, but with the nail-biting grind of the AL Wild Card race at the end of the year, the 24-year-old righty knows what pressure innings feel like. He is also very comfortable in Tropicana Field after posting a 2.54 ERA and 1.01 WHIP at home this year, leading his team to a 9-5 record in these 14 starts.

Another rookie, Desmond Jennings, was the hero Monday night, hitting two home runs and is 4-for-11 in the series. The young Rays have not been afraid to throw their rookies out there, with Matt Moore starting Game 1 and Hellickson now starting Game 4. This marks only the 10th time a team has thrown two rookie starters in one postseason.

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