As others slump, Ian Kinsler rakes
October, 12, 2010
By Jeff Caplan | ESPNDallas.com
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Ian Kinsler made history in his first postseason. Riding a 3-for-4 night, including a two-run, ninth-inning homer that put the final dagger in the Tampa Bay Rays, the Texas Rangers' second baseman hit safely and scored a run in all five games of the ALDS.
The only other player to get his postseason career off to such a flying start was Boston's Nomar Garciaparra.
Kinsler's huge game, coming in the most important nine innings for the Rangers franchise -- no longer the only one not to win a playoff series -- made him 8-for-18. a team-best .444 average in the series, with three home runs, tied with Nelson Cruz, and a team-high six RBIs.
"I'm just trying to get on base. I'm trying to do whatever it takes for this team to win. It's pretty simple in the playoffs," Kinsler said. "I've been doing it all, but when you're in the playoffs it obvioulsy elevates the level of focus. I'm just trying to do the same thing I've done all year, just a little bit more focused."
The Rangers needed Kinsler's hot bat. Michael Young, Josh Hamilton and Vladimir Guerrero had a forgetful series at the plate, going a combined 10-for-57, with Guerrero accounting for half, and five RBIs.
Kinsler's decisive home run, yet another into the left-field bleachers at Tropicana Field, came off Rays closer Rafael Soriano. He knew it was gone when he hit it, evidenced by his bat flip and did a little hop and skip as he made his way down the first base line.
Game, and series, over.