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Texas Rangers’ Rougned Odor, left, and Shin-Soo Choo laugh while walking through the Toronto Blue Jays on-field team workout at Rogers Centre on Oct. 7.Darren Calabrese/The Canadian Press

Except perhaps for the flashy U.S. flag warmup shorts the Texas Rangers are wearing before workouts this week, they're not so different from the Toronto Blue Jays.

A look at their 2015 seasons show they are striking similar. They made key acquisitions, had comeback kids, and earned the best two second-half records in the American League.

Their recent playoff records, however, seem very different. While the Jays are making their first playoff appearance in 22 years, the Rangers appeared in back-to-back World Series as recently as 2011.

While the odds-makers are touting the Blue Jays as the heavy favourite to win the American League Divisions Series, which starts Thursday in Toronto, the momentum of the Rangers – a team that went from dead last and forgotten and barnstormed to win the AL West – shouldn't be discounted. Especially when they're trotting out a starter in Game 1 who held the Jays without a run in two meetings this year.

"I think when the season started nobody expected us to be here. They counted us out since spring training, so we use that as motivation," Rangers Game 1 starter Yovani Gallardo said. "We feel confident with the guys we have in that clubhouse. It showed throughout the year that we never gave up, we were always fighting, battling, and ended up winning the division."

Having been ravaged by injuries, the Rangers ended 2014 with a 67-95 record, dead last in the American League. The team's 2015 season didn't start with any more promise.

Ace Yu Darvish blew out his elbow in spring training – one of the best pitchers in baseball would miss the entire season. Derek Holland's injury thinned the pitching staff further. Veteran third baseman Adrian Beltre spent a stint on the disabled list with a bad thumb. The team's most promising hitter was Prince Fielder, a guy attempting a comeback after major neck surgery.

On May 1, Texas had a shaky 7-15 record, worst in the AL. On Aug. 1, the Rangers were 50-53 and a distant third in the AL West. Just as Toronto was busy making acquisitions, so, too, was Texas, which was changing the tide in Arlington.

They improved a weak bullpen by trading for Sam Dyson, and they made a trade that shook the earth in Arlington just as the David Price acquisition did in Toronto. The Rangers traded for 2008 World Series MVP Cole Hamels.

Prince Fielder's bat caught fire as he battled back after neck surgery and emerged as a leading contender for AL comeback player of the year. Dyson became a central figure in a revamped Texas's bullpen that had the AL's best save conversion rate (79.2 per cent) and second-lowest ERA (3.01) over the final two months.

The Rangers went 38-22 after Aug. 1, better in that stretch than every team in the AL, except one: the Jays and their 40-18 second-half record. While the Jays clinched early and rested some of their stars in the final days of the regular season, the Rangers had to win four of their final six games, including Sunday's finale on the back on Hamels to win the AL West.

The Jays scored an MLB-best 891 runs this season, while Texas was the third-best with 751.

"It's hard as an opponent to envy another team, but you can be impressed and congratulate them on the season they've had, but the season's over," Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton said. "As a competitor, you think about everything you've been through to get here, and you can start over … they're confident in their abilities coming into the playoffs, just like we are."

The Rangers were able to get the best of the hot-hitting Jays with Gallardo on the hill this year. Toronto couldn't score on the righty in 13 innings over two games this season. He shares another similarity with the Jays – having pitched in the playoffs for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2008, he understands what the atmosphere will be like in a city that has been starved for the playoffs.

"It's going to be electric. You know, the fans, obviously they're going to be into every pitch," Gallardo said. "I think the fans are excited, the players are excited. The whole country, you know, I think it's one of things that everybody's going to be watching, pretty much. It's going to be a fun series."