Back in the postseason for the first time in seven years, the Rangers didn't skip a beat. Texas took Game 1 of the AL Wild Card Series from the Tampa Bay Rays with a relatively easy 4-0 victory on Tuesday and now stands just one win away from knocking off the Rays and advancing to the ALDS.
It was a fairly easy win for the Rangers, highlighted by a strong starting pitching performance and some timely hitting. Several players stepped up when we needed them, but not everyone played their best.
With that in mind, here are two studs and one dud from Texas' big win on Tuesday.
Rangers Studs and Duds Game 1 vs. Rays
Stud: Jordan Montgomery
Jordan Montgomery had a challenging assignment in Game 1. Not only was he going up against one of the best pitchers in baseball in Tyler Glasnow, but he also had to face one of the league's most dangerous lineups on the road.
Fortunately, Montgomery has a good bit of experience pitching at Tropicana Field from his days with the New York Yankees (and playoff experience too), and he looked right at home. He navigated Tampa Bay's lineup with ease and even made a nice defensive play, diving off the mound to snag a pop fly.
The veteran lefty cruised through the early innings and never got into serious trouble, scattering 6 hits (5 of which were singles) over 7 scoreless frames. His control was outstanding, as he threw 61 of his 93 pitches for strikes and didn't walk anybody. He also did a good job keeping the ball on the ground with nearly twice as many groundouts (7) as flyouts (4).
As a starting pitcher, Montgomery did his job exceptionally well. He pitched deep into the game and did not allow any runs before handing a 4-0 lead over to the bullpen, letting his relievers take things from there. He also saved the bullpen (which was probably for the best given how poorly it's pitched in the second half) by going 7 frames, keeping the middle relievers fresh for Game 2 in case they are needed.
Montgomery has been our best starting pitcher since we acquired him at the trade deadline, and he proved that again on Tuesday with another brilliant outing in our biggest game of the season so far.