Rangers aim to grab lead and never let go

Texas has yet to pull ahead of Toronto in first two games of ALDS

Rangers aim to grab lead and never let go

TORONTO -- The Rangers' resiliency has been a point of pride all season as they posted a Major League-leading 49 come-from-behind wins, but Texas would just as soon take a different tact in Sunday's Game 3 of the American League Division Series when they face the Blue Jays in a must-win situation.

While they'll need to come from behind to win the series -- needing three straight victories to advance -- the Rangers know the easiest way to do that would be to get out front early in the 7:30 p.m. ET/6:30 p.m. CT contest, which will be broadcast on TBS in the United States and Sportsnet (English) and TVA (French) in Canada. The game will also be broadcast in Spanish on MLB Network.

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

Texas has yet to hold a lead in the first two games, with Toronto jumping out to a 5-0 advantage in the third inning of Thursday's opener en route to a 10-1 runaway and again taking a 2-0 lead after two frames and 5-1 after five in Friday's 5-3 Game 2 win.

"They've taken the momentum early both times," Rangers catcher Jonathan Lucroy said. "They've jumped on top early and their pitching kept us down the rest of the time. Hopefully we can attack early and make it a little easier on ourselves."

That's a two-pronged issue as Rangers starters Cole Hamels and Yu Darvish gave up 12 runs (11 earned) and 11 hits, including five homers, in 8 1/3 innings for an 11.88 ERA in the two games in Arlington. Combine that with the fact they've been outhomered 6-0 in the series and went 2-for-18 with runners in scoring position in Friday's loss and it's not hard to see why Texas trails in the ALDS.

Now they face young Blue Jays All-Star Aaron Sanchez, who went 15-2 with a 3.00 ERA this season and has been outstanding down the stretch, but the Rangers come with the confidence of a team that posted the best record in the AL during the regular season.

"Tomorrow is a new day, a new game and we'll have an opportunity to go out there and score early," shortstop Elvis Andrus said before Saturday's workout. "We know we're facing a really good pitcher in Sanchez, but you want to beat the best. It will be a great challenge. We have no more lives. We have to give it everything we have."

Banister on team avoiding panic

Only three of 30 teams in Major League history have come from a 2-0 deficit to win a five-game series after losing two home games, but no one in the Rangers' clubhouse need be reminded that the Blue Jays did exactly that to them last year in the ALDS. The two other teams to do so were the 2001 Yankees against the A's and the 2012 Giants against the Reds.

"We can't be worried about the first two games," leadoff hitter Carlos Gomez said. "That's in the past. They have to win three games, not two. I know everybody said how hard it is to come from two down, but it happened last year when they won. It's backward this year. They still have to win one game and it's the hard one."

So, yeah, a quick start would certainly aid the Rangers in that endeavor. But manager Jeff Banister isn't going to be picky about how that process plays out, as long as his team finishes on top.

"I think it's more important who scores the most last," he said with a smile. "It would be nice to score and get out to a lead. That's not how we've played all year long. There have been times that we've done that and there have been times we've had to play from behind. So I think we're well-versed in both.

"The bottom line is at the end of the game, do we have more on the board than they do?"

Greg Johns has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.