Game thoughts: On to Tampa Bay

ARLINGTON, Texas -- On the final day of the regular season, the Rangers finally learned the team they will face in the AL Division Series.

And that team is not the New York Yankees.

The Yankees’ 8-4 loss at Boston assured the Rangers of a matchup against the Tampa Bay Rays, starting on Wednesday at Tropicana Field.

The Angels defeated the Rangers, 6-2, in the final game of the regular season. Manager Ron Washington did his best to empty his bench and bullpen.

Most of the Rangers starters left the game after five innings.


* Mark Lowe didn’t help his case for a bullpen playoff roster spot with a troubling ninth inning.

Lowe, just five days from coming off the extended DL, was touched for three hits and three runs in the ninth. The inning started with a walk.

Dustin Nippert was touched for a solo home run by Peter Bourjos in an otherwise solid inning of work.

Darren Oliver and Alexi Ogando each worked quick, scoreless frames.

* Starting pitcher Colby Lewis looked playoff-ready in his five innings, allowing just one hit. But the hit happened to be a 384-foot home run by Hideki Matsui following one of two walks Lewis issued.

Lewis is slated to be the Rangers’ starter when they return home Saturday for Game 3 of the ALDS.

Lewis struck out four and was efficient with his pitch count, throwing 46 of his 66 pitches for strikes.

* Very classy the way the Rangers allowed most of their position players to go out on the field in the sixth inning and then substituted for them one-by-one, giving the big crowd a chance to applaud each one as he came off the field.

* Sunday’s crowd of 45,446 on Fan Appreciation Day brought the Rangers’ home season total to 2,505,171. That’s the highest total since 2005. The Rangers averaged 30,928 per game.

* The big crowd saved one of its biggest reactions to the announcement that Josh Hamilton was the winner of the AL batting crown. Hamilton went 1-for-4, pulling a single to right field in the fourth. He finished with a .359 batting average.

* Both Rangers’ runs off Dan Haren came in the fifth inning on singles by Nelson Cruz, Jorge Cantu, Bengie Molina and Julio Borbon. Molina and Borbon had the RBIs, tying the score, 2-2.