Rangers focused on winning, not ALDS opponent

Texas awaits winner of WC Game for Thursday's opener at Globe Life Park

Rangers focused on winning, not ALDS opponent

ARLINGTON -- The last two times the Rangers were in the postseason, they were knocked out by the Orioles and the Blue Jays. The Rangers will face one of those two teams again in the American League Division Series that starts on Thursday at Globe Life Park (TBS, 4:30 p.m. ET/3:30 CT).

The Rangers wait to see which one it will be as the Orioles and the Blue Jays face off in the AL Wild Card Game on Tuesday night in Toronto. The winner takes on the Rangers.

"We're going to wait and see who shows up, that's it," third baseman Adrian Beltre said after the Rangers' 6-4, 10-inning loss to the Rays on Sunday.

The Orioles beat the Rangers, 5-1, in the 2012 Wild Card Game and the Blue Jays eliminated the Rangers in five games in last year's ALDS. The Rangers won the first two games in Toronto before the Blue Jays won the next three, including a heated Game 5 at Rogers Centre.

Game Date Matchup Highlights
Gm 1 Oct. 6 TOR 10, TEX 1 video
Gm 2 Oct. 7 TOR 5 TEX 3 video
Gm 3 Oct. 9 TOR 7, TEX 6 (10) video

The Rangers were 3-4 against the Blue Jays this season as opposed to 4-3 against the Orioles. The Rangers' last game against the Blue Jays was a 7-6 win on May 15 in Arlington. That one is remembered more for the altercation at second base when Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor punched Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista in the jaw.

A Rangers-Blue Jays rematch could be interesting.

"I think that our focus supersedes anything that we might encounter in any location," manager Jeff Banister said. "We don't get to choose whom we play, we don't get to choose where we play, we have just earned the opportunity to play someone, somewhere. Who that is … we'll take whoever that is, and we'll go play the game of baseball. We'll stay focused and dedicated on what we need to do, and I'll leave it at that."

Must C: Tempers flare in Texas

The Rangers have three days off between now and Game 1 of the ALDS. They will have the day off on Monday and then workouts on Tuesday and Wednesday.

"I'll relax and hang out with my family," catcher Jonathan Lucroy said. "It's going to be a little hectic coming up here soon. I'm just going to take the next three days and relax, have a little fun and prepare myself mentally and physically for the month ahead."

Lucroy's solo homer

The Rangers still have decisions to make and Banister has not announced his starting rotation. The Rangers ended the season with a rotation of Cole Hamels, Yu Darvish, Colby Lewis and Martin Perez -- in that order. That puts Hamels and Darvish in line to pitch the first two games in Arlington, but the extra time off could allow the Rangers to switch the order.

Darvish's scoreless outing

There are roster spots also to be discussed and the biggest decision is if Shin-Soo Choo will be on the postseason roster. He was 2-for-12 in three games this weekend after being out since Aug. 15 because of a broken left forearm.

"Three games was a short sample size," Banister said. "We like what he did in the outfield -- his ability to run around -- and we liked what we saw at the plate. Which direction we'll go, we haven't made the decision."

Right now, the most important thing is the Rangers have secured home-field advantage, no matter who they play. The Rangers finished with the most wins (95) and highest winning percentage (.586) in the American League for the first time in club history.

One of the reasons they did that is because they were 53-28 at home.

"For us, it's huge," Beltre said. "Obviously, we faced Toronto [at Toronto] last year. I'm thinking if we played the last game at home, it would be a little different than what happened over there. Playing in front of our home crowd has been really huge for us. We tend to answer to that, play better at home. My belief is that it's huge for us."

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. 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.