Game 1, October 6
1:30 p.m. (EDT) at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida
|WP: Cliff Lee (1–0) LP: David Price (0–1)
TEX: Nelson Cruz (1) Bengie Molina (1)
TB: Ben Zobrist (1)
Rangers ace Cliff Lee dominated the American League East champions in the Game 1. He struck out ten while allowing five hits. During one stretch, he retired sixteen of seventeen batters before giving up a solo home run to Ben Zobrist in the seventh. The win also snapped a nine-game postseason losing streak that began in 1996 for the Rangers.
Longtime Ranger Michael Young appeared in his first playoff game after playing in 1,508 games in his career. Only Randy Winn of the Cardinals has played more games (1,717) without getting a shot in the postseason. Young was 0-for-4.
Nelson Cruz and Bengie Molina got to Rays ace David Price for a home run apiece, with Vladimir Guerrero contributing an RBI double as well. In the ninth inning, pitching in a non-save situation, Rangers closer Neftali Feliz walked the first two batters, but then settled down and induced a lineout from Ben Zobrist before striking out Reid Brignac and Matt Joyce to end the game.
Game 2 October 7
2:30 p.m. (EDT) at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida
|WP: C.J. Wilson (1–0) LP: James Shields (0–1)
TEX: Ian Kinsler (1), Michael Young (1)
The Rays still had no answers for both the Rangers' starting pitching and their offense. Matt Treanor was hit by a pitch, and eventually scored on Shields' pickoff error to first base in the third. Ian Kinsler hit a solo homer in the fourth to make it 2–0.
In the top of the fifth inning, with one out and Julio Borbon on base, Elvis Andrus hit a single. Shields was pulled, replaced by Chad Qualls. After a controversial checked swing call, Michael Young hit a three-run home run to extend the lead to 5–0. Rays manager Joe Maddon was ejected after arguing that Young's prior swing on the 2–2 pitch should have been called strike three. Ian Kinsler's RBI single later in the same inning made it 6–0 Rangers.
The Rays had their best chances in the bottom of the seventh inning. Ben Zobrist walked then advanced to the third base on Willy Aybar's double. However, Kelly Shoppach and Matt Joyce were both struck out, then Jason Bartlett hit a fly ball to center field to end the threat.
C. J. Wilson pitched 6 1⁄3 shutout innings for Texas, giving up two hits and striking out seven while walking two.
Game 3 October 9
5:00 p.m. (EDT) at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington in Arlington, Texas
|WP: Joaquín Benoit (1–0) LP: Darren Oliver (0–1)
TB: Carl Crawford (1), Carlos Peña (1)
TEX: Ian Kinsler (2), Nelson Cruz (2)
In seeking their first franchise postseason home game win and series sweep, the Rangers sent Colby Lewis to the mound to face the Rays' Matt Garza. The Rays were counting on the 2008 ALCS MVP to come through once again and prevent a sweep.
The Rangers struck first in the bottom of the third inning. Mitch Moreland hit a lead-off double in the bottom of the third inning, advanced to third on a passed ball by Rays catcher John Jaso, then scored on Elvis Andrus's RBI ground-out.
After being shut down for 16 consecutive innings in this series, the Rays finally got back to life. After walking Evan Longoria, Lewis was replaced by reliever Derek Holland. The next hitter Matt Joyce hit a ground ball to Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler. Longoria was out at second base, but Joyce was ruled safe at first on a close play. Dan Johnson singled, but Joyce was tagged out at second base after a failed attempt to advance to third. Holland was replaced by Alexi Ogando after walking Carlos Peña. Orgando gave up an RBI double to B. J. Upton that scored Johnson. The game was tied at 1–1.
Another controversial play occurred in the bottom of the sixth inning when Andrus stole second on Josh Hamilton's strikeout. Garza and Maddon argued with the second base umpire Jeff Kellogg that Andrus' right leg did not stay on base.
Ian Kinsler's go-ahead solo homer in the bottom of the seventh inning took the lead for the Rangers and also knocked Garza out of the game.
Rays designated hitter Dan Johnson doubled in the top of the eighth inning, then Peña's RBI single scored pinch-runner Desmond Jennings to tie the game at 2–2. Later John Jaso hit a two-out RBI single that scored Peña. This was the Rays' first lead in the series.
Carl Crawford led off the top of the ninth inning with a solo home run. Later Peña's two-run homer increased Rays' lead to four.
The four-run lead was enough for the Rays closer Rafael Soriano, despite a solo home run by Nelson Cruz in the bottom of the ninth inning.
Game 4 October 10
1:00 p.m. (EDT) at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington in Arlington, Texas.
|WP: Wade Davis (1–0) LP: Tommy Hunter (0–1) Sv: Rafael Soriano (1)
TB: Evan Longoria (1)
TEX: Nelson Cruz (3)
The Rays scored first in the top of the second inning. Carlos Peña hit a triple that bounced over the head of the Rangers center fielder Josh Hamilton, then scored on Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler's fielding error.
Back-to-back doubles by Evan Longoria and Peña in the top of the fourth inning brought in another run for the Rays. After two strikeouts, B. J. Upton hit the third double in this inning to score Peña.
Evan Longoria hit a two-run homer off the Rangers reliever Derek Holland in the fifth inning to increase Rays' lead to five.
The Rangers showed some sign of life when Nelson Cruz hit a solo home run, his third in this series, in the bottom of the sixth inning. Later Mitch Moreland's RBI double off Grant Balfour scored Ian Kinsler to make the score 5–2. After that, the Rays bullpen was excellent. Balfour got out of the inning and pitched a scoreless seventh, before handing it over to setup man Joaquín Benoit, a Ranger until this year. He worked a perfect eighth to pick up the hold.
Rays closer Rafael Soriano then pitched a perfect ninth for the save.
The series was tied at two and the Rangers were unable to notch their first postseason home game win. It marked the first time since 2005 that a Division Series in either league went the full five games.
Game 5 October 12
8:00 p.m. (EDT) at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida
|WP: Cliff Lee (2–0) LP: David Price (0–2)
TEX: Ian Kinsler (3)
Game 5 featured a rematch of Game 1's two aces, the Rangers' Cliff Lee versus the Rays' David Price.
Elvis Andrus led off the game with a single, later stole second, and scored for the Rangers on Josh Hamilton's RBI ground-out in the top of the first inning. Rays' pitcher David Price was covering first on the play and was unaware of the runner rounding third. The Rays tied up the game in the bottom of the third inning when Sean Rodriguez scored on Ben Zobrist's RBI single.
In the top of the fourth inning, Nelson Cruz hit a two-out double that barely missed being a home run in the deepest corner of the field, stole third, then scored on Rays' catcher Kelly Shoppach's throwing error.
The Rangers got another run in the top of the sixth on a similar play to the one that occurred in the first. Ian Kinsler grounded the ball to first and the Rays attempted to turn a double play, with Price covering first. Once again, Price seemed to forget about the runner coming from second when he turned to the umpire to see the call. Vladimir Guerrero barely beat Price's throw to the plate and the Rangers led, 3–1. All three Texas runs in the game to this point had been scored due to some sort of defensive miscue. Price was relieved by Grant Balfour in the seventh inning, having gone six innings, allowing three runs (all earned) on eight hits, a slightly better line than his first game but not good enough to match Cliff Lee. Lee dominated the Rays through nine innings, allowing one earned run on six hits, with eleven strikeouts.
The Rangers got another two runs in the top of the ninth on Kinsler's two-run homer off Rays closer Rafael Soriano. Cruz had singled before the homer, one of his three hits. Kinsler also had three hits for Texas.
Lee's complete game gem made this series become the first MLB postseason series in which the visiting team won every game, and his 21 strikeouts in the two games combined set an ALDS record for most strikeouts in a series. Lee finished the series with a 1.13 ERA in the two games. It is the first playoff series the Texas Rangers have ever won.