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Tampa Bay Rays reliever Randy Choate hopes to be part of history — again

ARLINGTON, Texas — Only one team in baseball history has dropped the first two games of a best-of-five series at home and come back to win. That was the 2001 Yankees, who beat the A's.

And perhaps a good omen for the Rays, reliever Randy Choate was on that Yankees team.

"I was just joking with some of the guys not too long ago, saying, 'I'm going to be the first guy to be on two teams that went down 0-2 (at home) and won the series,' " said Choate, who wasn't on the active roster for that series but later pitched in the World Series. "I'll be a big part of history."

Rays 2B Sean Rodriguez was on the 2008 Angels team that lost the first two games at home to Boston. The Angels won Game 3 but dropped Game 4.

"But it can be done," Rodriguez said.

"You can't win all three games in one day. Right now, all we have to do is win one and then we'll worry about what comes after that."

Also with the Yankees in 2001 was Rays special adviser Don Zimmer, who was manager Joe Torre's bench coach. And Oakland's third-base coach in 2001 was current Rangers manager Ron Washington.

A 'PIONEER': When Rangers RHP Colby Lewis went to play in Japan two years ago, he believed he would finish his career there. Lewis, drafted by the Rangers in 1999, didn't want to bounce between the big leagues and Triple A again, and he found stability with the Hiroshima Carp.

Lewis pitched so well — striking out 369 in 55 games — that the Rangers re-signed him in January. And today, he gets a chance to send Texas to the ALCS.

"It's a tremendous feeling to feel like you've kind of turned your career around," Lewis, 31, said.

Said Texas pitching coach Mike Maddux: "There have been some question marks whether anyone has come from Japan and kind of resurrected their career. I think he's a pioneer in that, and I think he opened up the door for a lot of guys; pretty great story."

LINING UP: Expect the Rays to go back to their usual lefty-laden lineup against Lewis. That means C John Jaso and 2B Ben Zobrist at the top and a 5-6-7, in some order, of Dan Johnson, Matt Joyce and Carlos Peña. Jason Bartlett will be at short.

GETTING DOWN: There was talk among the Rays about bunting more today given Lewis' five errors this year.

CROWD CONTROL: The Rangers believed they were able to keep Rays fans from being a factor in the first two games with their play, outscoring Tampa Bay 11-1.

But 2B Ian Kinsler said fans were partly responsible for taking themselves out of the game.

"It's tough to win when you're (complaining) about a call from the previous day," he said. "It seems like they were still talking about the Carlos Peña (hit-by-pitch) call, which is basically a nonissue because it hit the bat. And it's tough to be a good crowd when you're worried about umpires."

Quotable: "They're going to be tough. They had the best record in the league for a reason." — Rangers 3B Michael Young on the challenge of eliminating the Rays today

MISCELLANY: The Rays went through a typical pregame workout and batting practice. … Maddon had an extended on-field discussion with MLB discipline czar Bob Watson but said it was about nothing specific. … RHP Jeremy Hellickson and RHP Andy Sonnanstine threw to hitters after the workout to stay sharp if needed.

Tampa Bay Rays reliever Randy Choate hopes to be part of history — again 10/08/10 [Last modified: Saturday, October 9, 2010 12:02am]
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