ST. PETERSBURG — Manager Joe Maddon was leaning left for a while, but he decided his lineup was all right.
Maddon was considering using more of his left-handed hitters against Rangers LHP Cliff Lee, but he said Monday that he probably will stick with the right-handers.
That means Kelly Shoppach will catch instead of John Jaso, and Ben Zobrist will be in right instead of Matt Joyce, with Sean Rodriguez at second. What sounded still undecided was whether lefty Dan Johnson or switch-hitter Willy Aybar will be the DH; the Rays had Rocco Baldelli in Game 1, but he has since been removed from the roster.
"I'm probably leaning toward what we've normally been doing against left-handed pitching, because it's pretty much how we got to this particular point and I don't know that it's the right time to start messing with the whole everything of the group," Maddon said. "Furthermore, I have a lot of confidence in these other guys."
The Rays are 36-22 overall against lefty starters but have lost their past five and were shut out three times.
PRESSURE PACKED: Maddon doesn't expect his players to be too impacted by the pressure of tonight's winner-take-all game since they had to win the last two just to get here. (Plus many went through Game 7 of the 2008 ALCS.)
But he was open to suggesting it could affect the Rangers, pointing out how the momentum has shifted, and how long they've had to think about it from Sunday afternoon until tonight.
"To be in their home ballpark, really outplaying us badly for the first two games and they have their 50,000-some people waving, it's got to be a pretty good feeling for them," he said. "And for us to be able to push that rock back in the other direction and regain momentum … you've seen it before.
"I always look for the look. And you look for the confident look and you look for the look that's not so confident. Obviously you hate to see it in your own guys, but when you get to see that non-confidence look on the other side, that's a pretty good thing."
So has he seen it from the Rangers? "Not yet," he said. "But I'm looking for it."
HISTORICAL ACHIEVEMENT: 1B Carlos Peña is the first player in history to hit for the cycle in consecutive postseason at-bats, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, hitting a homer and a single in his last two at-bats of Game 3 then a triple and a double in his first two of Game 4. The four hits matched his total for his last 36 regular-season at-bats. … The Rays made more history on Sunday as the first team since the 1947 Yankees to start a rookie pitcher and catcher in a postseason win. For the Rays, it was Wade Davis and Jaso; for the Yankees, Spec Shea and Yogi Berra.
MISCELLANY: RHP Lance Cormier and LHP Jake McGee threw in simulated game conditions, with Reid Brignac, Johnson, Rodriguez and Nevin Ashley hitting. … All five starting pitchers were at the field to play catch even through there was no workout. … Maddon has started 15 position players in the four games. … Parking lots open at 2 p.m. and gates at 5. … No first-pitch thrower was announced Monday. … The Rays are now 49-34 at home and on the road.
Times staff writer Joe Smith contributed to this report.
Been there, done that
Ten teams in MLB history have started a best-of-five postseason series 0-2 and reached Game 5. Seven times, that team won:
Year, Rd. 0-2 team, opp. Winner
1972 ALCS Tigers, vs. A's A's
1981 ALDS Brewers, vs. Yanks Yankees
1981 NLDS Phillies, vs. Expos Expos
1981 NLDS Dodgers, vs. Astros Dodgers
1982 ALCS Brewers, vs. Angels Brewers
1984 NLCS Padres, vs. Cubs Padres
1995 ALDS Mariners, vs. Yanks Mariners
1999 ALDS Red Sox, vs. Indians Red Sox
2001 ALDS Yankees, vs. A's Yankees
2003 ALDS Red Sox, vs. A's Red Sox