There will be joy in Texas, for mighty Ian Kinsler has hit a homerun.
The Texas Rangers, facing elimination in game five, and yet another first round postseason exit, were able to finally muster up some magic for a franchise that has not had much to get excited about. In 1996, 1998, and 1999 the Texas Rangers won the AL West, but each time they would fall to the Yankees in the ALDS, winning only one game in three postseason appearances.
This time however would be different, for the first time, the Rangers ALDS opponent was not named the New York Yankees.
This time they would face the Tampa Bay Rays. After taking games one and two behind the stellar pitching performances of Cliff Lee and C.J. Wilson, the Rangers looked to have the series in the bag.
Texas was ahead 2-1 in Arlington with only five outs remaining when the Rays would mount a comeback to take game three 6-2. In game four, Tommy Hunter was hit hard by the Rays, and the Rays were never really challenged, cruising to a 5-2 win.
The Rangers would have to return to Tropicana Field in order to close this series. Having lost all momentum, many wondered if the young Rangers would have what it takes to close out this series on the road, against a team who had won the toughest division in baseball.
The Rangers, however, had one final trick up their sleeve. Who was this trick? Cliff Lee, postseason ace, Mr. October, with ice water running through his veins, went out to pitch game five for the Rangers. His opponent would be the same as game one, All Star Game starter, David Price. Lee proceeded to strike out 11, give up six hits and allow only one run in a 5-1 win over the Rays.
The Rangers would find clutch hitting in the form of Elvis Andrus, Nelson Cruz, and Vladimir Guerrero, before Ian Kinsler would shut the door on the Rays in the ninth with a two-run homer.
The Rangers would get a 39 year old monkey off of their back, and are now headed to face the dreaded Yankees in the American League Championship Series. The Yankees hold a 9-1 record against the Rangers in the playoffs, but the Rangers hope to change that.
ALDS MVP: Cliff Lee-
Cliff Lee showed why he the Rangers would trade top prospect Justin Smoak in the first place. Cliff Lee has never lost a postseason game, and that did not change in this season. Cliff Lee went 2-0 in two crucial starts against a 19 game winner, posted 21 strikeouts, and only allowed two runs. Cliff Lee was the main reason the Rangers won this series, and the main reason they have a chance against the Yankees. If the Rangers manage to split the first two games, they will be looking at Lee in game 3, and the Yankees will be forced to pitch C.C. Sabbathia on short rest to even up the series.
ALDS MVP Honorable Mentions: Elvis Andrus, Nelson Cruz, Ian Kinsler, C.J. Wilson-
All of whom who played outstanding in this division series.
The Rangers have shook a major monkey off of their backs, but the season is not over yet. Postseason ace Cliff Lee is a Yankee killer, and C.J. Wilson is no slouch either. Can the Rangers find some more magic on the inside, and make a World Series run?
None of that matters right now.
A celebration 39 years in the making has just started in Texas.
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Paul Ferguson is an intern at bleacher report.
Follow him on twitter at: @paulwall5
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