Rewind: Previous Rangers clinchers
Friday, Sept. 23, 2011: The Rangers beat the Seattle Mariners, 5-3, as Craig Gentry has an inside-the-park home run. But that only put the magic number at 1. So the Rangers watched and waited with members of the crowd that night as the A's-Angels game was shown on the big screen. When the A's finished off Los Angeles, the Rangers celebrated on the field and then headed back to the clubhouse for the traditional victory party.
It was the club's second straight AL West title. And as GM Jon Daniels watched the activity in the smoke-filled clubhouse, he was proud of what his team had done.
"We set out a few years ago to build a sustainable, successful, championship-caliber club," Daniels said. "I give credit to Wash, our staff, scouts and players. They've accomplished that. We didn't want to be a one-hit wonder. Now we want to get back and win that championship. We'll see how we do in the tournament."
Neftali Feliz earned the save. As soon as Nelson Cruz caught the final out, Feliz bounded over to third base to make sure Michael Young got to lead the celebration.
"I love it," Young said, as he stood drenched with champagne in the visiting clubhouse in Oakland. "I didn't put goggles on right away. I wanted to taste it and see how badly it hurt. It's a great feeling. These guys are having a great time and deservedly so. We worked extremely hard, overcame a lot of injuries, overcame all kinds of stuff to get where we are right now."
Texas then went on its memorable playoff run, beating the Rays behind Cliff Lee in Game 5 at Tropicana Field and then getting past the Yankees in six games in the ALCS to advance to the club’s first World Series. They lost in five games to the San Francisco Giants.
Sunday, Sept. 26, 1999: The Rangers pounded out double-digit runs in a 10-3 victory to clinch its third postseason invitation in the past four seasons. Rafael Palmeiro hit a sixth-inning grand slam to give the Rangers the title in front of their home fans at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
Juan Gonzalez tripled and scored on an error and Todd Zeile hit a two-run homer as well to help the Rangers build a lead even before Palmeiro hit his big blast.
Texas played at Yankee Stadium for the first two games of the best-of-5 division series and were swept for the second straight year. The Rangers lost 3-0 in Arlington to end the series.
Friday, Sept. 25, 1998: The Rangers clinched the division before they actually lost 15-4 to Seattle. The scoreboard in the Kingdome didn’t show the Angels had lost, but word filtered into the Rangers dugout. The club celebrated in the clubhouse in Seattle and not on the field.
The Rangers were 3 ½ games behind the Angels with 20 games left before winning seven of the next nine to take the lead. They beat the Angels five times in the final two weeks of the season to grab the division title.
"I think this makes a statement," Texas manager Johnny Oates told reporters in Seattle that night. “I think it says we're making progress. We want to be a team that contends every year and is looked at as a contender every year. I think this goes a long way towards that."
The Rangers got swept by the Yankees after opening up the playoffs at Yankee Stadium. A 4-0 loss in Game 3 in Arlington ended it. Texas scored just one run the entire series.
Friday, Sept. 27, 1996: Texas clinched the title while still playing in the 13th inning of a 15-inning loss to the Angels in Arlington. When Seattle lost, 8-1, to Oakland, the Rangers had their first division title in front of a sold out crowd of 46,764, which included then Texas governor George W. Bush. After the game, fireworks exploded and players came onto the field to celebrate.
Ken Hill pitched seven solid innings, but it was 2-2 when he left. Garrett Anderson’s two-run single in the top of the 15th was the difference.
Things got a bit scary for the Rangers down the stretch. They led the AL West by nine games with 17 to play, but Seattle swept the Rangers in a four-game series and managed to crawl within one on Sept. 20. But a 7-1 win that day thanks to a great start by John Burkett allowed them to stay in front, and they never looked back.
Texas beat the Yankees in Game 1 of the ALDS at Yankee Stadium and had a 4-1 lead in Game 2 before New York won it in 12 innings. The Yankees won the next two games in Arlington to win the series. They eventually won the World Series over the Atlanta Braves.
103.3 FM ESPN PODCASTS
Play Podcast Rangers GM Jon Daniels joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to tackle the tough questions after his team failed to advance to the playoffs.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss having Nelson Cruz back in the lineup and how the Rangers are feeling heading into their wild-card play-in game against the Rays.
Play Podcast ESPN Insider and senior MLB analyst Jim Bowden joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the wild-card race and the Rangers' chances of making the playoffs.
Play Podcast Chuck Cooperstein joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why he feels Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish isn't an ace.
Play Podcast Elvis Andrus joins Galloway and Company to discuss the Rangers' stretch run and the morale level in their clubhouse.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss the latest Rangers news, including the team's struggles, Ron Washington's job security and a rumored trade with the Braves.
Play Podcast Ron Washington joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss the Rangers' dismal September, who's to blame for their September struggles and his status as the team's manager.
Play Podcast Fitzsimmons and Durrett discuss how some people are calling for the Rangers to fire manager Ron Washington.