Which team do you want the Rangers to face in the World Series?
ARLINGTON — In reality, the confetti should have starting raining in Arlington after the third inning.
Sure, the Rangers went on to add six more runs to their lead on the way to a 15-5 Game 6 ALCS win, but even if they hadn’t, the 9-run third inning would have been enough to hand the Texas Rangers franchise their second straight trip to the World Series single-handedly.
“This team is happy right now, we’re going to celebrate and have fun tonight, but come tomorrow, this team is going to be focused on the big prize,” said Rangers first baseman Michael Young after the win.
With the back-to-back American League Pennants, the Rangers are the first AL team to go to the World Series in consecutive years since the New York Yankees did so for four straight years from 1998-2001.
After the game, second baseman Ian Kinsler was asked if he felt the Rangers could be the next great American League team.
“[Could we be the] next great team? We are the next great team,” Kinsler said. “You just said it hasn’t happened since ’01!”
In Game 2 of the ALCS, Rangers starter Derek Holland was chased out of the game in 2-2/3 innings. In the sixth game, it was Detroit’s Max Scherzer who couldn’t clear three innings. Neither could relievers Daniel Schlereth and Rick Porcello.
In fact, it took a fourth pitcher, Ryan Penny to get the final out of a third inning in which the Rangers sent 14 batters to the plate, scored nine runs and Michael Young added a LCS record to his resume with two extra-base hits in the frame.
“We have a really deep and versatile offense,” Young said. “We can find different ways to score; a lot of times it’s with homers, and sometimes it comes with singles, doubles and running the bases well. Tonight it was obviously a combination of everything.”
A combination of everything, with a hefty helping of outfielder Nelson Cruz’ boomstick.
Cruz was named the ALCS MVP after batting .364 with six home runs and 13 RBI across the series' six games. He was the first player to hit six homers and 13 RBI in a single postseason series.
“Definitely I’m happy with the way we played and the way I performed,” Cruz said.
But as historically good as Cruz was, the players in the clubhouse also gave a lot of credit to the bullpen for another strong performance Saturday.
“[The bullpen has] been lights out for us this whole playoffs – both the ALDS and the ALCS,” Derek Holland said.
They, too, were historically good.
Alexi Ogando was the winning pitcher on Saturday, making the Rangers just the second team all-time in a best-of-seven postseason series to earn each of the four wins in the series from a member of the bullpen, along with the 1997 Cleveland Indians.
In six games, the Texas bullpen allowed four runs in 27 and 1/3rd innings pitched. Ogando allowed one hit and struck out three Tigers in two innings to earn his second win of the series.
“Nelson Cruz was a big-time hero this series, but I’d say right behind him, you could definitely say Alexi Ogando could have been the MVP,” said outfielder David Murphy.
Holland pitched 4-2/3 innings in Game 6, allowing seven hits, four runs (all earned), no walks and five strikeouts.
Afterward, he said he and the rest of the starters know they need to pick it up.
“Us as a starting rotation and specifically myself, I know I’ve got to step up big time and go longer than two innings or whatever,” Holland said. “I’ve got to go out there and keep battling like I have been, and everything will be alright.”
So now Texas waits for the winner of the NLCS between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Milwaukee Brewers. No matter the winner, the World Series will begin on the road for the Rangers on Wednesday, Oct. 19.
Shortstop Elvis Andrus said it doesn’t matter at this point who the Rangers face.
“We don’t really care; it’s the same thing like we were waiting for the Yankees or Detroit,” Andrus said. “I think at this point, we’re just ready for one of those teams to win.”