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Colby Lewis Spectacular, Fuels Texas Rangers To Franchise's First World Series

Nick PoustCorrespondent IIOctober 23, 2010

ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 22:  Josh Hamilton #32 of the Texas Rangers dives on the pile as he celebrates with his teammates after the Rangers won 6-1 against the New York Yankees in Game Six of the ALCS during the 2010 MLB Playoffs at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on October 22, 2010 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

It is hard to fathom a better ending.

Former Texas Ranger Alex Rodriguez, who once signed for a quarter of a billion dollars and juiced with the team, was at the plate. Closer Neftali Feliz was on the mound, ready to get the one out that the franchise has always been waiting for.

An adrenaline-filled fastball missed for ball one, but then three strikes were fired from Feliz’s electric right arm. Rodriguez’s bat just rested on his shoulders as the third whizzed by.

Catcher Bengie Molina jumped out of his crouch. Feliz jumped in the air. And then the two met at the mound and hugged. The three outfielders sprinted in. One of them, Josh Hamilton, fought back tears before doing so.

The bullpen emptied out onto the field. The dugout streamed towards the middle of the diamond. Fifty-four thousand fans went ballistic. And, just at that moment, confetti rained down, “American League Champions” shirts were handed out, and ginger ale flowed to honor Hamilton’s sobriety.

It was the first celebration of its kind for Texas. The franchise that had never reached the World Series now has.

The ending was perfect, with Rodriguez only left to stare at the flaming fastball, with the jubilation of celebration, and with what was so unselfishly said by all those players who made this possible.

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Starting pitcher Colby Lewis was nearly as perfect as this scene, dominating the New York Yankees over eight innings. The 31-year-old, who has been released four times and played in Japan, commanded every pitch and was far from afraid of the Yankees.

He came inside, he worked both sides of the plate, his location was impeccable, and he maintained the unpredictability and composure necessary to succeed. The Yankees had no answer, and as a result the unflappable journeyman pitched eight remarkable innings to collect his second victory over the Evil Empire in this lopsided series.

New York wasn’t shutout only because of a terrible call made by home-plate umpire Brian Gorman in the fifth inning.

An inside, off-speed pitch clearly ricocheted off the shin of Nick Swisher, as Swisher’s reaction illustrated, but the ball rolled behind Molina and to the backstop, and Gorman allowed Rodriguez to trot home for the tying run.

Lewis handled business from there: The Yankees hacks turned laughable and their plate discipline became atrocious.

On the other side, Texas’ offense teed off on starter Phil Hughes. Vladimir Guerrero, who entered his fifth inning appearance with two RBI in the playoffs and one in the series, looked on as Josh Hamilton was intentionally walked for the fifth time in the series. As he strode towards the batters box, it was clear that he desired to make the Yankees pay.

He did, crushing a curveball into the left-center gap, scoring Mitch Moreland from third and Hamilton from first. New York second baseman Robinson Cano hung his head as center fielder Curtis Granderson threw the ball back in. The Yankees were in a hole, a hole they wouldn’t get out of.

If two runs of support weren’t enough, Nelson Cruz tacked on two more, bad hamstring and all. He demolished the first fastball he saw from woeful David Robertson after five effective curveballs and admired its flight into the seats in left-center. Five to one, if it wasn’t over before, it was after Cruz’s liftoff.

Now New York heads home, and Texas watches the NLCS to see who they will face. This is the first time they will experience something of this magnitude, and they will love every minute of it, knowing their spot in the World Series is secure for the very first time.

I can see it now: 25 players sitting in front of multiple televisions, with coaches and front office personnel looking on, watching intently as the Phillies and Giants fight to become the National League representative.

Who they will face matters nothing to the American League champion Rangers. Why?

When TBS announcer Matt Winer pointed out to Hamilton that Cliff Lee will be available for Game 1, the slugger grinned and replied, “That will be really, really good.”

Their ace will be pitching Game 1 of the World Series instead of Game 7 of the ALCS, a transition made possible by Lewis’ Lee-esque performance—the most memorable outing of his career, fueling the biggest win in Rangers history.


 

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