Rangers set for heavyweight bout vs. Yanks
Wilson excited to take mound against AL East front-runners
TORONTO -- It is a series of epic proportions. A series that could very well foreshadow October baseball.
Rangers. Yankees. A three-game battle royale at Rangers Ballpark.
Texas leads the American League West, while New York heads the tough AL East -- and both teams are coming off tough series.
Despite the impending pressure and hype surrounding Friday's series opener, Rangers manager Ron Washington remained unfazed.
"The only emphasis I'm putting on it is that we want to win the series," Washington said. "We take two out of three, I'm pleased.
"I think we know the Yankees are coming. I think everyone knows the Yankees are coming. It's not like we're going to go home and the Yankees just snuck up on us."
The Yankees have taken four out of five games between the clubs this season, but Friday starter C.J. Wilson embraces the opportunity.
"I've pitched well against the Yankees my whole career," said Wilson, who is coming off a six-run outing against the Twins -- his worst of the year. "They're a team I always look forward to facing. They are the gold standard in a lot of ways in the American League. And for us, as a team, to get back on the winning track at home is a big thing, too.
"I think a lot of us are comfortable playing at home, and I think it will be nice to get back. Hopefully, we play our best baseball."
Primarily serving as a member of the Rangers' bullpen, Wilson has posted a 3.47 ERA through 36 1/3 innings against the Yankees in his career. He has faced them twice this season, allowing three runs in six innings in a 5-1 loss on April 8 and two runs in 5 1/3 innings in a 4-3 win on Aug. 10. He did not get a decision in the latter start, leaving his career record against New York at 0-3.
Carrying a 7 1/2-game lead into Friday, this series could prove to be a defining moment for the Rangers.
With both teams yet to clinch their respective divisions -- and a lot remaining at stake, including home-field advantage throughout the playoffs -- Wilson emphasized the importance of playing well at home over the weekend.
"If there are fans in the seats, we tend to play better," Wilson said. "That's all that matters. Sadly enough, there may be at least 10,000 Yankees fans there."
James Hall is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.