The Morning After

alcsnumber6204.jpgAll photos from The Associated Press.

After a celebratory night, I can now write a little bit about Friday night’s pennant clinching victory.

During the course of the day, I was astounded by how many people told me emphatically that the Rangers would win Game 6. People at my office, people at my wife’s office, my kids, everyone seemed more sure than I of a Rangers win.

Being so used to this team not performing to expectations, I was having visions of Phil Hughes pitching the way he has before against Texas instead of the way he pitched in Game 2. And, I had seen Colby Lewis so many times in July and August get little run support and end up giving up the first runs. Those runs often turned out to be the winning runs. All I could do was hope against hope for a similar result to Game 2.

It started right off the bat, with an Elvis Andrus double, a Josh Hamilton single and a Vlad Guerrero groundout, his first RBI of the ALCS, in the bottom of the 1st.

I started feeling better. Unfortunately, the Rangers stopped hitting after that. Hughes didn’t allow any hits in the 2nd, 3rd or 4th. Lewis was matching Hughes, actually having a no-no through 4. Still, the Yankees were hitting some incredible shots, just right at people. Andrus skyed like Kobe Bryant to snag one sure double to end an inning. Ian Kinsler scooped up a hot Robinson Cano shot to turn an inning-ending double play and there were a couple of warning track shots as well.

When it was still 1-0 going to the 5th, I was getting worried. It didn’t help my mood that Michael Young came up twice to that point with a runner in scoring position and less than two outs and not only couldn’t cash in the run, he couldn’t advance the runner, either. Then the Yankees started intentionally walking Hamilton, daring Guerrero to beat them instead. Vlad failed to deliver.

Finally, the Yankees got some hits and tied the game at 1 in the 5th. Texas had Derek Holland warming in the pen. It looked like Lewis might be done. That sinking feeling was hitting me big time. Cliff Lee or not, I really didn’t want there to be a Game 7, but it was looking like the defending champs were gaining momentum.

Lewis managed to work out of the jam with no further scoring when he struck out Marcus Thames with a runner on second. Tie game.

Now the question was, could Phil Hughes have a shutdown inning? He hadn’t given up a hit since the first. Mitch Moreland started it off with a grounder deep in the hole to Cano. Hughes didn’t get to the bag in time and Moreland was on. An Andrus groundout with Moreland going put a runner on second with one out. Again, Michael Young came up with a runner in scoring position and less than two outs. Again, Young didn’t get a hit. Again, an intentional pass to Hambone to bring up Vlad.

Different result.

Guerrero sent a deep shot to left center, scoring Moreland and Hamilton and the Rangers were back on top 3-1. Phil Hughes’ night was over. David Robertson came in and, after five straight curveballs, threw Nelson Cruz a fastball that was promptly deposited into the left center field seats. 5-1 Rangers.

That sinking feeling was gone. We were really going to win this thing! Lewis worked a 1-2-3 6th inning. Feeling better.

I knew for sure it was over in the top of the 7th. Robinson Cano, who had killed Rangers pitching the entire series, not only struck out, he did it badly on a curve in the dirt. The life was gone from the 2009 champs.

Lewis came back for the 8th and, with one walk included, struck out the side to end his night: 8 innings, 3 hits, 1 run, 3 walks and 7 K’s.

Neftali Feliz came in to pitch the 9th and how fitting was it for Rangers fans for the game to end with Alex Rodriguez taking a called third strike?

alcsnumber6208.jpgA-Rod, whom the Rangers signed for that mammoth quarter billion dollar contract in 2003. The one who was supposed to take the Rangers to the Promised Land. To be fair, any player would have taken the contract. It was former owner Tom Hicks who overspent on A-Rod, thus handcuffing the team for years from making significant free agent investments. Still, Rodriguez’ comments when he left the Rangers about how it was him “and a bunch of kids” left a sour taste in Rangers fans’ mouths.

Well, guess what, folks? A-Rod really did lead the Rangers to the Promised Land. He just did it with a strikeout instead of a home run!

Hamilton was given the ALCS MVP award. He had a great ALCS and his 5 intentional walks in the series (3 in Game 6 alone) is certainly all the proof one needs for Josh to win the AL MVP Award this year. Still, I think I would have given the award to Andrus. Elvis was a key in every early offensive rally the Rangers had this series. He had a hit in every game, his baserunning disrupted the Yankees from the get go and he made some incredible plays defensively, including the force out at 3rd in Game 4 that kept the Yankees from having a big inning. I’m happy for Hamilton, though.

And how about the whole concept of “TEAM” shown in the post-game show. When they interviewed GM Jon Daniels about “HIS” success, Daniels immediately pointed to the scouts and advance men under his wing, singling them out for praise first. When Hamilton was awarded the MVP, you could see him mouth to someone (or to the entire team) “You deserve this.” He then thanked God and Jesus first, and made it all about the team second before even talking about himself. How refreshing in these days of spoiled athletes!

There’s only one thing I regret about the ALCS. It sure would have been nice to see Andres Blanco get into a game. Blanco has been with the team from the start of the season and really earned his spot on the post-season roster when he filled in for Ian Kinsler so ably on his second trip to the DL. I sure hope Blanco gets some AB’s in the Fall Classic.

All that’s left to decide now is who the Rangers will be playing. Both the Phillies and the Giants have great pitching staffs. The Phillies have the better offensive team. Despite the bats, though, I’d have to say my choice is Philly. The reason? Roy Halladay and Roy Oswalt. Two possible Hall of Famers. Tough as they come. Still, the Rangers know both of those pitchers a lot better than they know the Giants Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and company. The Rangers have faced Halladay, Oswalt and Brad Lidge many a time over the years and will be able to game plan against them better.

In the end, though, it matters not who they face. What matters is THE TEXAS RANGERS ARE GOING TO THE WORLD SERIES!!!

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9 Comments

Congrats to your guys for clinching and making it to the Fall Classic..

-peter

Phillies Outside

Thanks Peter. Sorry it isn’t the Phillies we’re facing, but hopefully we’ll both be back next year!

Great piece! I am a much younger Ranger fan and I am probably just as happy as you. I had a feeling all day yesterday the the Rangers were going to win, and I am so glad that they did!! I still cannot believe that the Rangers are in the Fall Classic!! I have read your blog for a while but never commented. I really enjoy it! Let get ready to watch a fantastic World Series!! GO RANGERS!!
http://rangerfandieter.mlblogs.com/

Seen yours as well, Ben (and congrats on the front page mention on the Blogs page). Scary to think of us as being the favorites in the WS. We Rangers fans are always so used to being the underdogs! I’ll be at Game 4 in full gear!

Right after Josh Hamilton got the ALCS MVP Award he said he didn’t want to talk about himself, but his teammates. That is what has had me waiting for Hamilton to arrive at this level.
He was the same way coming up through the Rays system and came back after his suspensions with the same team first menality that endears me to him. Hamilton may end up the MLB MVP, but like his derr head above his locker, it will be a team earned piece of hardware.
So glad he finally got to hit the big stage and play in the Fall Classic. His Ranger had to beat the last two American League Champions to get there, but that only makes the Ginger Ale taste sweeter.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Yea for the Rangers! It is refreshing to see a team who stands up for each other, that knows what loyalty is (so many today do not get the meaning of that word) and that persevere in spite of obstacles. Long deserved!!! Josh Hamilton says it best,” it’s not about self, but about we!” I know I will enjoy being at the World Series Game Baby! Go Rangers!!!

Thanks for the comment, connectingcrosscountry2007 AKA Mrs. Mariner Fan-Ranger Fan! I look forward to sitting in the stands with you cheering the Rangers on! Love and kisses, sweetheart!

Congratulations on making to the big stage. I am not a Rangers fan and will be rooting for the Giants but Rangers have a much better chance of winning WS than Giants. Pitching wise, Rangers surprised me because the way Wilson and Lewis performed while J Sanchez was disappointing and Bumgarner was so-so for Giants. To be honest, I don’t know much about Rangers’ bullpen besides Feliz because I followed NLCS more closely than ALCS. That’s why I give edge to Giants for overall pitching. Hitting, base stealing, and defense is where Rangers are far superior than Giants. Their lineup is stacked of threats at all defensive positions, base stealing options are more than Giants. Much better team overall than the Giants. Rangers in five. Let’s hope I am wrong and Giants win it all. :)

Thanks, bqop. Looks like the Rangers are the favorites, but you guys have a pretty dang good pitching staff (plus up to 4 games we can’t use a DH). I hope we beat you guys, but I hope for a fun competitive Series overall!

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