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It’s Time Rangers, Texas finally off to the ALCS

Posted By George Kouvalis On Oct 12 2010 @ 11:54 pm In Texas Rangers | No Comments

They had to use history to make history but that’s exactly what the Texas Rangers did in the 2010 ALDS to finally get the monkey off their backs and win their first playoff series in franchise history.  Not one series in baseball history has seen the road team win every game of that series until this one.  History be damned the Rangers did that and also won their first playoff series in the process.

As advertised since his arrival, Cliff Lee showed Texas why he was acquired.  For this type of game.  A “Must Win” game, something the Rangers had nearly never had in their history.  This win especially against a very talented Tampa Bay Rays team, shows the mettle that 2010 Rangers are built on.  Veteran experience and leadership didn’t fold under the pressure of having to go back to St. Petersburg for a deciding game five.  Instead Elvis Andrus led the way in the first inning with his smart and courageous base running leading to the first run of the game for the Rangers.  Andrus, who was on second made it home after an infield chopper was handled perfectly by Price to first, however had his back turned to the runner which Andrus took advantage of and scored.  This run seemed to set the tone and quiet the home fans as well.  After allowing the Rays to tie the game the Rangers again used some gutsy base running to force a Kelly Shoppach throwing error to third leading to game’s second and winning run.

The Rays were still in the game but couldn’t get to Lee, who was dominant in this game.  In the sixth inning with one out, and Vladdy Guerrero on first, Tampa seemed to get a double play ball on an infield chopper by Nelson Cruz.  Guerrero, who was running harder and faster than his age, forced a quick throw to second base where a dropped ball led to both men being safe.  A double play ball and the inning is over, now however with runners on first and second the Rays would seem to be in trouble.  Ian Kinsler would come to the plate and hit what would look to be another potential double play ball, while the Rays got the out at second and attempted a throw to first to David Price, Kinsler would hustle fast enough down to the line to beat the throw to the base, as it appeared that the Price missed the base with his foot.  While all this was going on the aging Guerrero once again found his legs and forced a play at the plate that led to another Rangers run.  This one was closer than it appeared but Guerrero was safe.  Now a two run lead for one of the games best pitchers would surely be enough.

Cliff Lee (CG, 1 ER, 0 BB ,11K’s) would keep the Rays at bay so to speak.  In the bottom of the 6th after the Rangers had momentum scoring their third run, Lee would retire the heart of the order, Crawford, Longoria and Pena in order to end any threat.  The bottom half of the 7th seemed to be the Rays inning.  After BJ Upton, who had an horrendous series, led off with a single and then stole second had the Rays in a position to cut into the lead.  Enter Lee with his best stuff.  He gets pinch hitter Willy Aybar looking at strike three then gets Shoppach to fly to second base for the second out, followed by Sean Rodriguez looking at another third strike, inning and season nearly over for the Rays.  The 6th and 7th innings were the turning point in this ballgame and it was all Lee’s dominance.

Ian Kinsler, who had a pretty good series put the final nail in the Rays coffin by hitting a towering two run home run off Rays closer Rafael Soriano to seal the deal for the Rangers in the top of the ninth.  After that, Lee fittingly got the Rays heart of the order again to go 1-2-3 in the bottom half of the ninth to end the game and the series.

The Rangers can finally celebrate a post season win and look ahead to the rival Yankees in the ALCS.  Look for the preview on Prosportsblogging.com soon.

SERIES NOTES:

- No series in baseball has ever had the visiting team win all the games in a series

- The Rays were 0-3 when Kelly Shoppach was catching, 2-0 with Jaso

- Ian Kinsler and Neslon Cruz each led the series in HR’s with 3 a piece

- Cliff Lee leads the majors in 2010 Playoff wins with 2

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