TORONTO -- In a winner-take-all Game 5 in the American League Division Series on Wednesday (4 p.m. ET on FS1/Sportsnet), here are three keys for the Rangers against the Blue Jays to advance to the next round.
1. Cole Hamels needs to pitch well from the start. In each of his past three starts, he has allowed 1-2 runs in the first inning. The Rangers ended up winning all three games, but in a contest with little margin for error, this is no time to rely on a comeback victory.
2. Score first. During the regular season, the Rangers were 65-25 when they scored first. They also outscored their opponents 120-80 in the first inning. The team that scored first has won all four games of this series so far. The Rangers must strike early.
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3. Win the battle of the bullpens. The Rangers' bullpen dominated the first two games, giving up one run in 11 innings. The Blue Jays' bullpen has been hurt by the loss of Brett Cecil, and David Price was pressed into duty in Game 4. This should be the Rangers' advantage if they can score early and Hamels can get them into the last 1-2 innings with a lead.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.