Rangers see pros and cons with both foes
Success vs. opposing players, record in ballparks all factor in
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers did the work, and after a brief wait, they now know who they're facing in the World Series -- the San Francisco Giants.
By dispatching the Yankees in six games to win the American League Championship Series, the Rangers earned themselves a bit of a breather before the World Series begins Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. ET on FOX.
The National League has home-field advantage in the World Series, so the Rangers will be heading to AT&T Park. Not that Texas was concerned about going to Philadelphia.
"It really doesn't matter," said manager Ron Washington, who watched Thursday's night's NLCS showdown between the Phillies and the Giants, his first glimpse of his squad's pending opponent.
"You know, we are here, and wherever we have to go, we are going to take our bags, we are going to pack them up and we are just going to go continue to play baseball."
The Rangers are fresh off upending the defending World Series champion Yankees and, right now, they're feeling pretty good.
"We believe in ourselves," said veteran Michael Young, the heart and soul of a plucky Rangers squad.
"First and foremost, we worry about what we do, we think about what we have to do to win a World Series. We know we are going to play a good team regardless. We played two great teams so far in the American League. [We] can't wait for the opportunity."
"We don't care who we play," added Lee. "Both of those teams are good. It's going to be a challenge, but we don't doubt ourselves. We control what we can control. We have no control over who's going to win that series. But we won this one."
One player who did admit to having a rooting interest was Texas catcher Bengie Molina. And why not? Molina began the season with the Giants before being traded to the Rangers on July 1.
"I don't really care who we play," Molina said. "But I'll tell you, the Giants, I wish they could win, because I have a lot of friends and guys that I love over there. We were like brothers, so I wish them the best."
While the Rangers may not care right now who they play in the World Series, the opponent could, of course, make a difference. Below is a look at the advantages and disadvantages of facing the Phillies and the Giants:
Advantage: Given the choice of facing the Giants or Phillies lineup, you would have to go with San Francisco. The Giants finished ninth in the NL in runs scored with 697, and their lineup certainly can be pitched to more easily than the Phillies. It's no surprise, but Lee has good career numbers against San Francisco, having won all three of his starts with a 1.29 ERA. The Giants don't have a lot of history against Texas pitchers -- one game vs. Colby Lewis, none vs. C.J. Wilson and Tommy Hunter -- and that unfamiliarity could work in the Rangers' favor.
Disadvantage: The Rangers are a good road playoff team, with a 5-1 mark away from home in this postseason, but this matchup could put them to the test. Why? Because the Rangers have not been successful playing at AT&T Park. Texas is 0-9 at AT&T, and is 2-12 in San Francisco if games at Candlestick Park are included. Overall, the Rangers have dropped seven straight to the Giants, with their last meeting coming in 2009 in San Francisco. Keep in mind, the Giants will have home-field advantage. The Rangers have not played host to the Giants since 2001.
Advantage: Texas' hitters have done well against Philadelphia pitchers. Since Roy Halladay used to pitch in the AL and Roy Oswalt for the Astros, whom the Rangers play six times a year, Texas hitters are plenty familiar with the Phillies' top two pitchers. David Murphy (.500) and Ian Kinsler (.316) have hit well against Halladay, while Kinsler (.467), Molina (.391) and Young (.308) have all hit well against Oswalt in 23 or more at-bats. The Rangers also are a confident bunch offensively right now after taking it to the Yankees pitchers.
Disadvantage: The Philadelphia offense has been inconsistent, but when it gets rolling, look out. Having had him as a teammate last season, the Phillies may have some added insight on Lee that could help them. Having had to rally from a 3-1 deficit against the Giants, the Phillies could be riding a pretty nice wave of momentum heading into this series. The Rangers are in their first World Series -- after winning their first playoff series this year -- while the Phillies are playing in the Fall Classic for the third straight year and are well accustomed to all that comes with it. The Phillies have left-handed power hitters in Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez who would probably like the way the ball carries to right at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Brittany Ghiroli contributed to this story. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.