By Tyler Ward
The Texas Rangers are moving on to their first World Series. Their opponent, though, we are still waiting to find out if it'll be the Phillies or Giants. But, for now, it's the Rangers' time. They will be appearing in their first World Series, even though they just won their first postseason series earlier this month when they defeated the Tampa Bay Rays.
In a pitching matchup that featured Colby Lewis and Phil Hughes, only one would do well. And that was Lewis. The pitcher, who was added to the roster earlier this year after spending two years in Japan, threw a spectacular game.
Lewis pitched eight strong innings, surrendering three hits and one earned run. He also walked three batters and struck out seven.
Hughes, on the other hand, was quite the opposite. The young pitcher managed to only pitch 4.2 innings, giving up four earned runs and four hits. He also walked four, struck out three, and had a crazy wild pitch.
The Rangers got off to a good start in the first inning when Vladimir Guerrero got the first of his three RBI. He was able to ground out to second, but Elvis Andrus scored on the play to give the Rangers a 1-0 advantage.
New York would answer in the top of the fifth when Alex Rodriguez scored on Colby Lewis' only mistake—a wild pitch. But, there was some controversy on the play. Lewis' pitch clearly hit Nick Swisher in the shin, but the umpire did not see it that way. He ruled it as a wild pitch and Swisher did not reach base on the play. Rodriguez still scored on the play and the game was tied 1-1, but it wouldn't last for long.
In the bottom of the inning, Guerrero stepped up to the plate again, slapping a double to center and scoring Mitch Moreland and Josh Hamilton on the play. After the play, Hughes was relieved by David Robertson. However, Robertson would then proceed to give up a two-run homer to Nelson Cruz, sealing the Yankees' fate.
The blast by Cruz put the Rangers up 5-1 and that's all they needed. Two innings later, in the seventh, Ian Kinsler hit a sacrifice fly to to left field, scoring long-time Ranger, Michael Young. As far as runs go, that was the end of it.
Neftali Feliz came into the game in the ninth, pitching a perfect inning. He would strike out Curtis Granderson and get Robinson Cano to pop up. Alex Rodriguez was the last batter of the game and Feliz struck him out to end the game. Fireworks would go off and the celebration began.
Outfielder Josh Hamilton was named ALCS MVP after he hit four home runs in the series, tying an American League record for most home runs in the championship series. Hamilton was also intentionally walked five time, a major league record, including three times in the clinching game. A humbled Hamilton was more than happy that he helped his team reach their first World Series.
"I don't want to talk about myself," Hamilton said. "I want to talk about them, because we are the reason we're here."
The ALCS MVP would then go on to say, "This group's here because they don't know how to fail. The chemistry on the team is something like I've never known anywhere. All the guys love each other and we support each other. And we love the fans."
Michael Young, the longest-tenured player on the team, was also more than happy. He was ecstatic. "The World Series is coming to Texas," Young said. "Totally worth the wait, totally."
Hamilton and Young weren't the only happy people on the field. Co-owner, team president, and former Rangers great Nolan Ryan witnessed their victory from the front row—he headed onto the field after Feliz struck out Rodriguez to end the game.
Ryan was the first person to hold the ALCS trophy at the postgame celebration and the fans gave him a roaring ovation. "Our fans have waited a long time, this organization has waited a long time," Ryan said. "This team coming out of spring training was on a mission."
The Yankees were dominated in every aspect of the game in the series. Their run differential of minus-19 was the second-most in team history; they were minus-23 in the 2001 World Series when they lost to the Arizona Diamondbacks, their first championship, too. They allowed 37 runs in the ALCS, also the second-most in team history—they gave up 41 runs in the 2004 ALCS when they lost in seven games to the Boston Red Sox.
When it comes to sports, it's not about which team is the best. It's about which team plays the best, and the Rangers did that.
If there were a Game 7, Cliff Lee was expected to be the starter, but now with the Rangers' victory, it looks like Lee will start Game 1 on Wednesday against the Phillies or Giants. The Giants currently lead the series 3-2.
The Rangers' series win was somewhat bittersweet. The Rangers, in their only three postseason berths prior to this season, were knocked out by those very same Yankees. Now, the Rangers finally got their revenge. The Yankees and their $200 million-plus payroll could not withstand the Rangers' pitching and hitting. There were many questions entering the postseason, including whether or not the Yankees' pitching could hold up.
It appeared that there was validity for those questions. The Bronx Bombers' pitching was nothing, but mediocre at best. As a team, they had an astounding 7.11 ERA for the series and frankly, that will not win games. New York will now have many questions to answer in the offseason, as they are still looking to claim their 28th World Series championship.
A disappointed Joe Girardi said after the game, "We didn't accomplish what we set out to. And as I told my guys, this hurts. I've been through it as a player. I've been through it as a coach and now I've been through it as a manager. It's not a lot of fun watching other teams celebrate. They beat us. They outhit us, they outpitched us, outplayed us and they beat us."
With the Yankees sent home, the Rangers are now looking forward to their World Series matchup against the Phillies or Giants. Game 1 will be on Wednesday and the Rangers are hoping they can bring Texas their first championship in the team's 50-year history.