Texas Rangers: ALCS

Fans can register for chance at ALCS tickets

September, 10, 2012
Now that registration for the ALDS is over, Texas Rangers fans can register online for a chance to purchase tickets to possible 2012 American League Championship Series games at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

Here's part of the club's release:
Between now and continuing through Sunday, September 16 at 11:59 p.m. CT, fans can go to texasrangers.com/opportunity and register for the opportunity to purchase up to two tickets for one of the four possible 2012 American League Championship Series games at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

Following registration, a pool of randomly selected registrants will be chosen and provided access to an online pre-sale opportunity, based on available inventory. Those selected will be notified by email no later than 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, September 19. The Online Ticket Opportunity for those selected will take place on Friday, September 21.

There is no charge to register for this opportunity, which will be the only option for fans to purchase individual tickets to possible 2012 American League Championship Series games at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Registration this week is valid for the final two Postseason Ticket Opportunities that will be held in September. Regardless of selection in the ALCS Ticket Opportunity, all registrants are automatically entered for the chance to participate in the World Series Ticket Opportunity. The dates for the possible World Series Ticket Opportunity will be announced at a later date. Fans who registered prior to the ALDS Ticket Opportunity deadline do not need to register again, regardless of their selection in the ALDS Ticket Opportunity. Registration remains valid for both future opportunities.

There is a possibility of up to four American League Championship Series games that could be played at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Tickets may be purchased for Home Game 1, Home Game 2, Home Game 3, or Home Game 4 of the ALCS at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. The 2012 American League Championship Series is scheduled from October 13-21.

Ticket prices for possible 2012 ALCS games at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington:

Lower Box; Lexus Club Box Corner Box: $150

Lexus Club Terrace; Lower Reserved: $125

Upper Home Run Porch; Upper Box; Upper Reserved; Bleachers; Grandstand Reserved: $ 60

Standing Room: $ 40

Dazzling Dozen: Cruz throws out Cabrera

November, 17, 2011
Memorable plays during a season aren't always tremendous blasts or impressive pitching performances. Sometimes they are great defensive plays.

No. 7: Nelson Cruz nails Miguel Cabrera at home plate in Game 4 of the AL Championship Series

[+] EnlargeNelson Cruz
AP Photo/Duane BurlesonNelson Cruz threw out Miguel Cabrera at home plate in the eighth inning to keep the game tied.
Cruz had one of the greatest single series by a player in history in the ALCS. He ended up with six homers and 13 RBIs, the first player to ever have that many homers and runs driven in during one postseason series. But he also made some key plays with his glove and arm. And the throw he made against the Tigers in Comerica Park in Game 4 was one of the biggest.

The Rangers and Tigers were tied at 3 in eighth inning of Game 4. Texas held a 2-1 lead in the series and was desperately trying to prevent the Tigers from winning a second straight game and evening the best-of-7 affair. With Miguel Cabrera at third base representing the go-ahead run, Delmon Young hit a fly ball that wasn't particularly deep to right.

Cruz caught the ball close to the right-field line. Cabrera headed home as soon as it was caught. Cruz rifled a one-hop throw to catcher Mike Napoli, who had time to catch it and turn to get ready for the collision at the plate. Napoli absorbed the hit and held onto the ball, keeping the game tied.

"You've got to go, you've got to take a shot to win right there," said Michael Young, who was playing first base and watched Cruz's throw sail over his head. "If Nellie's throw is off by four feet he sneaks in there."

It was a momentum-building double play, too. The Rangers got another big throw in the 10th when Napoli gunned down Austin Jackson trying to steal second base.

What it meant: The game stayed tied on the road, allowing the Rangers to get some more chances to win it. It took 11 innings, but Napoli's single in the top of the 11th scored Josh Hamilton (who had doubled) with the go-ahead run. And Cruz then put it out of reach with a three-run homer for a 7-3 win.

The aftermath: Texas took a 3-1 lead in the series and despite losing Game 5, the team headed back home with a 3-2 lead. They finished things off by pounding the Tigers in Game 6 at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington with 15 runs in a 10-run victory.

Bullpen wrap: Job gets done, family style

October, 12, 2011

DETROIT -- In the hallway outside the Texas Rangers' celebratory clubhouse and away from the media horde, catcher Mike Napoli wrapped his burly, tattooed arms around the tall, lanky frame of flamethrower Alexi Ogando.

They embraced for a few moments, pulled back, smiled at each other, laughed and hugged again. Instantly, a conversation without words between two men who speak different languages needed no interpretation.

[+] EnlargeAlexi Ogando
Kevork Djansezian/Getty ImagesAlexi Ogando gave up the tying home run, but the rest of the bullpen picked him up, including Scott Feldman, who was once an afterthought but picked up the win.
"It was like, 'Oh man, come on, I know, I know,' " Napoli said, referencing the 0-2, two-out fastball Ogando fired down the middle of the plate to Brandon Inge, who deposited the pitch over the wall to tie pivotal Game 4 at 3-3 just one inning after the Rangers rallied for the lead. "We're family. We all care for each other in here. You don't want something like that to happen."

All ended well despite Ogando's fastball not finding the outside target, his first misstep in three otherwise dominating outings in an ALCS that the Rangers now lead 3-1 with three chances to clinch a return trip the World Series.

Josh Hamilton, Napoli and Nelson Cruz, who delivered another amazing moon-shot, blew the game open in the 11th for the 7-3 win, but it was six more innings of stellar relief work from a rested and near-invincible bullpen that made it possible.

Mike Adams faced four batters in his one inning. Darren Oliver, Scott Feldman and Neftali Feliz all faced just three.

Of the five relievers that had a part in this huge win, none have been a member of this burgeoning family longer than Wednesday's winning pitcher, and perhaps fans tend to forget that about Feldman. The 6-foot-6 bearded wonder won 17 games as a starter in 2009, struggled in 2010 and then injured his right knee. The day after that season ended he underwent microfracture surgery, a procedure seen more in the NFL and NBA. He watched his teammates celebrate last year all the way to the World Series.

And for much of this season, Feldman was an afterthought among fans as he rehabbed in the shadows. Even later in the season as he made his return to the mound, results were sketchy and his future cloudy. Who knew if Feldman would be good enough to make the playoff roster?

"Pitching in the postseason is something new to me, and I'm having fun with it," Feldman said. "It's a lot of fun being on this team right now."

Feldman's long relief in Game 2 after starter Derek Holland faltered early allowed the Rangers to stay close and eventually win. His one inning Wednesday in the 10th also proved colossal as manager Ron Washington wanted to save closer Neftali Feliz for the final three outs, whenever those were to come. Tigers manager Jim Leyland didn't have that luxury and turned to Jose Valverde for two innings.

Valverde got through the 10th, but the Rangers shelled him in the 11th for four runs before he could get two outs.

Feldman's 10th, with a little help from his battery mate Napoli, cleared the way for the offensive fireworks.

Feldman got Inge on a bouncer back to the box for the first out. Then, on an 0-1 pitch, he inexplicably sailed one across Austin Jackson's chest to put the Tigers' best threat to steal -- and the potential winning run -- on first base.

"That's the last thing you really want to do there is give a guy a free pass," Feldman said, "especially with Miguel Cabrera lurking around there."

With Ryan Raburn at the plate and Cabrera, whom the Rangers walked three times and once intentionally with the bases empty, was on deck. On cue, Jackson took off for second base. He didn't make it. Napoli popped up and gunned him down for the second out of the inning, kicking the door open to get out of it without facing Cabrera, who doubled in two in the third.

"Nap bailed me out big time," Feldman said. "He made a great throw. Unbelievable throw really. That was huge."

Feldman then got Raburn to chase a fastball that tailed off the plate for his fifth postseason strikeout to end the inning.

And now Feldman, who hasn't allowed a run or a walk and has surrendered just one hit in 5 1/3 relief innings, is one win away from his first World Series.

"He's been a huge part of our team for a long time now," Michael Young said. "When you have microfracture surgery that's no small thing. We all saw how good he was in 2009. He's shown many times what he means to this team. He's always been a great teammate. I think we're really happy now he's able to make contributions because he deserves it. He deserves the chance and he's capitalizing on it."

Just another family moment.

Colby Lewis tries to continue playoff roll

October, 11, 2011
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Colby Lewis' postseason resume is impressive. The 32-year-old won Game 3 of the ALDS in Tampa, allowing one run on one hit (a solo home run) in six innings. Add that to his 3-0 mark and a 1.71 ERA that included wins over the Yankees in Games 2 and 6 (the clincher of last year's ALCS) and the club's only World Series win against San Francisco.

He flew to Detroit on Monday afternoon so he could get some additional rest and will start Game 3 tonight at 7:05 p.m. central time on 103.3 FM ESPN and Fox.

The pitcher shrugs when asked why he's so good when it counts the most.

"I try to treat it like a normal start and don't change things," Lewis said. "My routine is the same. If I stay even-keeled and play to my strengths, everything will be all right."

Lewis has battled a hip issue this season and inconsistencies. He had a 4.91 ERA in August and a 5.65 ERA in September. Yet, he finished the regular season with two straight quality starts (in Oakland and Anaheim) and continued that in the ALDS.

"It comes down to execution and he knows how to do that," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "He grinds it out and delivers."

Washington considers Lewis "a gamer," because of how he hasn't complained about his hip and has gone about his business.

"He's learned how to manage it," Washington said. "He has to watch how he's running and what he's doing on his off days, but he's figured that out."

Lewis said that he feels good and that adrenaline takes over this time of year anyway.

He also hopes to figure out how to pitch better against the Tigers. Two of his worst starts of the 2011 season came against Detroit. He gave up 13 earned runs on 20 hits in 7 1/3 innings. That's a 15.95 ERA. For his career, Lewis has a 7.48 ERA, though it drops to 5.79 at Comerica Park.

"You don't really worry about anything in the past," Lewis said. "Once it's over, it's done with and you just walk in the dugout and forget about it and move forward and perpare yourself for the next day.

"I've thrown some good games against them last year. It doesn't really matter, like I said, what has gone on this year. [Tuesday] is a new day and just go attack and try to get outs."

Interestingly, Lewis said he won't be looking back at any film of his past starts against the Tigers.

"I’m not really a big film guy," Lewis said. "I didn't look at any film before my last start in Tampa and had a good outing before that and didn’t look at it. I’m the guy that goes off the fly and how I feel and what feels good out of the bullpen. You try to do that and make those pitches work. You try to attack the zone."

Lewis will be pitching in a park that does offer space for fly-ball pitchers. The large center field can help keep balls in the stadium that might go out at other places.

"It helps," Lewis said. "It’s not Yankee Stadium with the short porch in right. It’s a bigger stadium. Our outfield is extremely fast. I think it serves us well. We have guys with a lot of power and it doesn’t matter what park we’re in."

Rangers 'pen embraces zero tolerance

October, 11, 2011
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Zeroes.

That's how Mike Adams sees it. Perfectly round, fat zeroes.

It's as if the Rangers' bullpen is suddenly full of those street-corner newspaper hawkers of yesteryear.

"Goose eggs! Get your goose eggs right here! Get 'em while they're hot."

Everybody in the Texas 'pen is producing 'em. Nobody on the other team wants anything to do with them.

Go ahead, give Nelson Cruz his due for his walk-off grand slam; he deserves it. But any in-depth analysis of how the Texas Rangers won Game 2 of the American League Championship Series, 7-3 in 11 innings Monday at The Ballpark in Arlington, will come to one very simple conclusion: The bullpen won this one.

You can read the rest of the story here.

David Murphy continues to bury the past

October, 10, 2011
ARLINGTON, Texas -- No one has been tougher on David Murphy this season than David Murphy.

Multiple times he's called much of the season a "personal misery." He has said he ached internally as the team won, yet he struggled and found fewer and fewer chances to contribute.

Then came a September hamstring injury to Nelson Cruz, a chance to play and Murphy bloomed. He's refused to slow down when he's been in the postseason lineup, batting .333. He came through in Saturday's Game 1 of the ALCS with an RBI triple to the right-center field gap in the second inning off Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander.

With the Tigers stacked with right-handed pitchers, the lefty swinging Murphy, who hit a season-best .351 in September, would seem to have a spot reserved in left field for today's Game 2 and beyond. He has split time with right-handed rookie outfielder Craig Gentry and during the regular season Murphy often gave way to fellow lefty Endy Chavez, who has yet to see postseason action.

"He's much more aggressive," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "When Murphy is very aggressive that's when he's at his best. When he's tentative, a lot of times he take pitches he should be swinging at. That's what he's been doing. He's been more aggressive."

Slugger Delmon Young's status is uncertain

October, 7, 2011
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland said Friday afternoon that doctors are examining left fielder Delmon Young and he won't know the slugger's status for Saturday's Game 1 and beyond at least until later tonight.

Young hit a home run in the first inning of Thursday's Game 5 clincher at New York, but he left the game in the late innings with an injury deemed a mild left oblique strain. His absence would be a big blow for the Tigers in the best-of-7 ALCS against the Texas Rangers.

"He actually felt better last night," Leyland said. "He's being evaluated and I have no information at this time."

Young is a key cog in the middle of the Tigers' lineup. He hit .316 (6-of-19) in the ALDS against the Yankees with three home runs. After being traded from Minnesota during the season, he hit .274 with eight homers and 32 RBIs in 40 games.

Leyland did not address how he might adjust his lineup if Young is unavailable, preferring to wait for official word on his outfielder's status.

Five big Cliff Lee moments as a Ranger

December, 14, 2010
Cliff Lee wasn't in Texas very long. But his 4 1/2-month stay was memorable. Here are five of those key moments in Lee's short Rangers career as he heads off to Philadelphia for 2011 and beyond.

The trade: Texas decides to include first baseman Justin Smoak in trade talks with the Mariners and a deal for Cliff Lee quickly comes together. Texas ends up dealing Smoak, minor league pitchers Blake Beavan and Josh Leuke and infielder Matthew Lawson to Seattle for Lee and reliever Mark Lowe on July 9. The next day, Lee makes his debut in Arlington. A stadium-record 14,500 walkup tickets are sold, but the Rangers and Lee lose to the Orioles.

All-Star Game: Lee becomes part of a six-man contingent that heads to Anaheim for the All-Star Game. He throws six pitches – five of them strikes – and gets three outs in his one inning of work. The AL fell, 3-1. That was why the San Francisco Giants had homefield advantage over the Rangers in the World Series.

The sweep: Lee returns after missing start with back tightness, which contributed to some of his August struggles. The lefty returned to throw eight innings as the Rangers swept the Yankees in mid-September. Lee allowed one run on two hits in the Rangers’ victory.

Game 5, ALDS: The Rangers elected to start Cliff Lee in Game 1, a victory over Tampa Bay, and then save him for a possible Game 5, if needed. It was needed after Tampa Bay won Games 3 and 4 in Arlington. Texas needed a stopper and Lee was brilliant. He pitched a complete game, allowing one run on six hits with 11 strikeouts and no walks.

"I told him I thought that was two of the best performances I've seen in a long time," Ryan said just after the Rangers won the series, talking about Lee’s Game 1 and Game 5 victories in Tampa Bay. "And I told him I appreciated him stepping up the way he did. Tonight was the exact reason we went out and got him."

Game 3, ALCS: Lee started Game 3 of the ALCS in Yankee Stadium with the series tied at 1. And he didn’t disappoint. Lee never gave the Yankees’ lineup a chance to get anything going. He allowed two hits in eight innings with 13 strikeouts and no walks. He became the first pitcher with three double-digit strikeout games in the same postseason. And at the time, it put Lee at 7-0 in eight postseason starts with a 1.26 ERA.

What is your favorite Lee memory? Mine is right after he threw that final pitch in the ALDS Game 5. It was just such a big moment for the franchise to get that first playoff series win and he was instrumental in that achievement.

Dazzling Dozen: American League champs

November, 19, 2010
Texas Rangers celebrateAP Photo/Chris O'MearaThe Rangers recovered from a Game 1 meltdown in the ALCS to beat the Yankees and produce the greatest moment in franchise history.

We've arrived at No. 1 in our countdown of the 12 most memorable moments for the 2010 Rangers. And I think it's probably one we can all agree on.

No. 1: Rangers win the ALCS

It's one thing to beat the Tampa Bay Rays and finally win a playoff series. It's quite another to beat the New York Yankees, the franchise that ended Texas' playoff runs in the first round in 1996, 1998 and 1999.

Texas began the series with a bullpen meltdown in a loss to the Yankees. Four relievers couldn't get outs in the eighth inning and a comfortable lead turned into a loss. But that was just Game 1 and the Rangers immediately bounced back in Game 2 to head to Yankee Stadium with the ALCS tied at 1 game each. Cliff Lee was superb in Game 3 to put the Rangers ahead and Bengie Molina hit a huge three-run homer in Game 4 to put Texas on the brink of the World Series.

[+] EnlargeColby Lewis
Stephen Dunn/Getty ImagesColby Lewis made sure the Rangers wouldn't need Cliff Lee again against the Yankees, pitching eight brilliant innings in Game 6.
Despite a Game 5 loss for C.J. Wilson, the Rangers came home confident. They had a 3-2 series lead and Colby Lewis on the mound for Game 6. If that didn't go well, they had Lee poised to pitch in Game 7.

But that Game 7 insurance policy wasn't needed. Lewis was brilliant. He had all of his pitches working and full command of the strike zone. Lewis pitched eight innings and gave up three hits. Vladimir Guerrero hit a huge two-run double to break a 1-1 tie after the Yankees had intentionally walked Hamilton for the fourth time in the series. Nelson Cruz hit a two-run homer that all but ended the series.

The fans cheered "Col-by, Col-by" as Lewis finished the eighth inning, understanding how well he'd pitched. Lewis ended up beating the Yankees twice and if not for Hamilton's .350 batting average and four home runs, he would have been the ALCS MVP.

Once the game ended, players, coaches and their families celebrated on the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington field. The 50,000-plus fans stayed well after the final out was made to cheer the fact that their Rangers were going to a World Series.

"We took down the champ," C.J. Wilson said after the game. "We took down the Big Empire. Everybody always says you've got to go through New York. We've got one more team to beat. Everybody's been aiming for this the whole season. We've been on this quest since spring training."

[+] EnlargeJosh Hamilton
AP Photo/Chris O'MearaALCS MVP Josh Hamilton proved his worth even when he wasn't swinging the bat.
Why this made No. 1 on the dozen list:

* There were more dramatic moments throughout the season, but no game or point in 2010 was bigger than beating the Yankees in the ALCS. For now, it goes down as the greatest moment in franchise history.

* The win sent the Rangers franchise to its first World Series. And while they lost in five games to the Giants, the Rangers took a huge step forward as an organization by bringing a World Series to Arlington.

* The fact that Lewis was the winner in Game 6 was also fitting. He was another player brought in by GM Jon Daniels and his staff that had something to prove. He pitched well for two seasons in Japan, but before that had bounced around the majors and never really figured things out. But the former supplemental first round pick by the Rangers in 1999 had a solid season. His win-loss record was misleading because he didn't get much run support, but he kept his team in games and had good stuff. He kept the Yankees bats silent in that Game 6, making sure Lee wasn't even needed in Game 7.

* The Rangers got to celebrate with the hometown fans, too. That was the first time in the postseason. They clinched the AL West in Oakland on Sept. 25 and beat Tampa Bay in Game 5 at Tropicana Field in the ALDS. So both times, they had their champagne on the road. This time, they got to share it with the fans.

* Hamilton was named ALCS MVP. He hit .350 with four homers and bothered the Yankees enough that they decided he wasn't going to beat them in Game 6. But by intentionally walking him, New York had to deal with the veteran Guerrero behind him and he made him pay. But Hamilton stepped up on the big stage and produced.

Do you like our No. 1 choice? Did you attend that game? If so, please share your thoughts about it in the comment section.

Of all things, weak bats doom Rangers

November, 2, 2010
videoARLINGTON, Texas – As crazy as it sounded for an American League underdog and first-time World Series entrant, the Texas Rangers crashed the Fall Classic as the favorite to win it all.

With bats blazing after a demolition of the New York Yankees, the light-hitting San Francisco Giants from that mediocre other league figured to be a walk in Golden Gate Park.

Sure, the Giants had Tim Lincecum and the National League's most dominant staff across the board, but so what? The Rangers had Cliff Lee and eccentric C.J. Wilson and steady Colby Lewis. If they could hold their own on the mound, the team that carried the majors' best batting average into the postseason and had cranked nearly twice as many postseason homers as anyone else would deliver the franchise its first-ever world championship.

And then something happened to the Rangers’ vaunted offense that poured 38 runs on the Bronx Bombers.

“Their pitching happened,” Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler said of the Giants’ tremendous pitching in the World Series. “Obviously, we pride ourselves on beating anyone offensively, but in this series we couldn’t do it.”

The Giants, hitting .231 entering the World Series, did. Edgar Renteria's three-run homer off Cliff Lee in the seventh inning of a scoreless game stunned the sellout crowd at Rangers Ballpark and all but ended Texas' hopes of taking the series back to the Bay. San Francisco went on to a 3-1 victory Monday night, taking the World Series, 4-1.

Michael Young’s .250 batting average in the five-game seriers tells the story. Not because it represents anything in particular, but because it serves as an eye-popping divider. Mitch Moreland, the nine-hole hitter who hit a team-best .462, is the lone Ranger to finish north of Young’s average.

[+] EnlargeJosh Hamilton
AP Photo/David J. PhillipAfter winning the ALCS MVP, Josh Hamilton was held to a .100 batting average in the World Series.
Everybody else finished well south. In fact, only Nelson Cruz hit .200, and he hit exactly that. Just get a glimpse of these averages: Elvis Andrus, .176; Vladimir Guerrero, .071; Josh Hamilton, .100; Kinsler, .188; Bengie Molina, .182; David Murphy, .143. It all adds up to .190 as a team, the third-lowest batting average in World Series history. In Games 4 and 5, the Rangers scratched out just three hits in each.

"I caught those guys. I know what they're capable doing. I just thought we could hit them," said Rangers catcher Bengie Molina, a San Francisco Giant the past 3 1/2 years until traded to Texas on July1. "I just thought that this group is a great group of guys that can hit and I thought they could hit them. But, like they say, pitching beats hitting, right?"

Consider this: Those light-hitting Giants matched the Rangers' 29 hits in the series with 29 runs.

“It’s tough you know?” Cruz said. “They got great pitching and when you got pitching the offense shuts down. It’s simple.”

Simple, yet still utterly confounding. The Rangers blew an opportunity in Game 1 to open a four- or five-run lead on Lincecum, but settled for a 2-0 lead after two innings. Lee couldn’t hold it and by the time the fifth inning was over, the Giants led, 8-2.

In Games 2 through 5, the Rangers’ offense managed five runs. They were shut out twice, once by Matt Cain, which is not a terrible crime since he finished the postseason without allowing a run. But insult came against 21-year-old lefty Madison Bumgarner and his poised Game 4 shutout.

Cruz’s solo home run in the seventh inning of Monday’s finale ended an 18-inning scoreless skid that went all the way back to the sixth inning of Game 3.

“We feel that we can hit anybody at any time,” Hamilton said. “Their pitchers threw well, I’ll give them credit, even though I don’t like to. They threw well, but we just weren’t swinging the bats well. But they beat us, fair and square.”

Hamilton had come off a poor ALDS to win the ALCS MVP a monster performance that led the Yankees to intentionally walk him three times in the Game 6 clincher. Later this month, he could very likely take home the AL MVP. But, in the World Series, he vanished, save for a solo shot in the Game 3 victory.

In Game 5, he didn’t get the ball out of the infield. Hamilton, who hit .359 in the regular season, tapped one to first in the first. After Young reached to lead off the fourth, Hamilton struck out swinging. He ended a 1-2-3 sixth inning with a dribbler to second and started the 1-2-3 silent ninth looking at Brian Wilson’s 95 mph fastball.

“I felt great. It would be different if I felt terrible, felt lost, didn’t know what I was doing up there. I felt good,” Hamilton said. “That’s just the way baseball works. Sometimes you feel good and you just don’t get hits. You hate for it to happen in the World Series, but it did. I’m not going to be disappointed or be upset about it because I didn’t have bad at-bats.”

Guerrero, the cleanup hitter who a week ago was voted the AL Comeback Player of the Year by his peers, produced almost nothing during the playoffs. Manager Ron Washington stuck by his prized free-agent pickup and refused to move him out of the four-hole in favor of Cruz, who swung perhaps the hottest bat of the playoffs, up until the World Series.

Guerrero produced one hit against the Giants and two RBIs. He struck out three times in Game 4, the first time he’d done that all season and the first time ever in his playoff career. In Game 5, he reached once on a fielder’s chance and was quietly retired three other times.

For one of the game’s great free swingers, the first World Series of his Hall of Fame-caliber career did not go as planned.

“I feel happy because in 14 years I haven’t been able to get to the World Series. But, of course, being my first World Series and waiting so long I was a little anxious when I was at the plate,” Guerrero said through a translator. “I think that is the reason why I couldn’t produce like I usually do during my career.”

In the end, great pitching beat good hitting. Good might be too complimentary to describe the Rangers’ plate performance.

“I can’t put my finger on one particular thing. Fact is we didn’t play how the Rangers play,” Hamilton said. “They’re pretty good, but baseball is baseball. Even the best pitcher can have a bad day or a pitcher that’s not so hot can I have great day. Say they had the best staff in the league, they still can be beat.

“I give them credit, they threw the ball well,” Hamilton continued. “I just don’t like giving pitchers a lot of credit. I just don’t.”

After these five games, the Rangers have little choice.

Colby Lewis holds Rangers' WS hopes

October, 29, 2010

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Colby Lewis pitched an eight-inning gem against the New York Yankees to clinch the American League pennant. Had things not worked out so well, Cliff Lee was waiting in reserve for a Game 7.

When Lewis takes the mound in Game 3 of the World Series on Saturday at Rangers Ballpark against San Francisco Giants lefty Jonathan Sanchez, he knows there will be no safety net. A third consecutive loss would put the Rangers in a nearly insurmountable hole.

"I mean, we've got to win either way. That's just the way it is," Lewis said. "We have to win four out of five, so there's really no room for error. It's just a situation where we're back at home and we played really well here, and I'm looking forward to it."

Lewis produced the best major league season of his career in his return from two seasons in Japan. He's carried it over into the postseason with a 2-0 record and a team-best 1.45 ERA. He's given up just 11 hits in 18 2/3 innings.

However, unlike his last deep outing against the Yankees, Wilson didn't last as long as he'd prefer in his first two starts. While he gave up little in Game 2 of the ALCS, he got his pitch count up and had to exit early. He walked three and lasted 5 2/3 innings, but the Texas bats provided a five-run cushion.

In Game 3 of the ALDS, Lewis left with a shutout after allowing two hits, but he walked five and lasted just five innings. The Tampa Bay Rays got to the Rangers' bullpen and avoided a three-game sweep.

With the damage the Giants have inflicted on the Rangers' bullpen, the Rangers' World Series hopes could hinge on how long Lewis can keep himself in the game.

"They're doing a really good job at taking advantage of mistakes," Lewis said of a Giants lineup that entered the series hitting .231 but has scored 20 runs on 22 hits in Games 1 and 2. "It's a situation where we've just got to go out and play good baseball and take care of it and score some runs."

Blister, bullpen ruin C.J. Wilson's night

October, 29, 2010

SAN FRANCISCO -- C.J. Wilson deserved better. On a night when the lefty came to deal on the heels of Cliff Lee's surprising Game 1 tumble, a ruptured blister on his middle finger, an impotent offense and an imploding Texas Rangers bullpen turned a Game 2 pitchers’ duel into a 9-0 San Francisco romp.

Wilson pitched superbly, matching the Giants’ stellar starter, Matt Cain, for all but one pitch. San Francisco shortstop Edgar Renteria launched a fifth-inning Wilson fastball high into the left-field bleachers for a 1-0 lead. In the top half of the fifth, Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler missed giving Texas the lead first with a blast that smacked off the top of the center-field wall, just inches from going over, and somehow stayed in play.

Kinsler settled for a leadoff double, but another round of failed hitting with runners in scoring position left him standing on second.

[+] EnlargeC.J. Wilson
AP Photo/David J. PhillipRangers starter C.J. Wilson went toe-to-toe with the Giants' Matt Cain, but his solid outing was ruined by a blister and his bullpen.
The rapidly moving game remained 1-0 in the bottom of the seventh when the blister on Wilson’s left middle finger ruptured during a 10-pitch at-bat to Cody Ross, resulting in a walk, and the beginning of the end. The bloody blister left Wilson incapable of gripping the seams of the baseball, and he removed himself from a game that would put the Rangers in a 2-0 hole as the World Series shifts to Texas.

“Cain and I had a good pitching battle all the way through,” said Wilson, who allowed three hits. “I made that one mistake to Renteria and other than that I was in complete control the whole way. ... You never want to come out of the game, but I did what I thought was right for the team at that point. It didn’t work out as well as anybody drew it up.”

Spinning out of control is the Rangers’ bullpen. Darren Oliver couldn’t finish off the Giants in the seventh, allowing one run. But, it was a mind-numbing eighth that ended any hope of a comeback. After Darren O’Day struck out the first two batters, Buster Posey singled.

Rangers manager Ron Washington pulled the righty O’Day in favor of young lefty Derek Holland, a success story against the Yankees in the ALCS, to pitch to the left-hand-hitting Nate Schierholtz.

O’Day, a spot pitcher whom Washington tends to pull rather than face a left-handed hitter, was upset he couldn’t punch out Posey to end the inning.

“Obviously, yeah, it’s tough to watch for sure. You want your teammates to succeed. You want your team to succeed. We just didn’t get the job done, including myself. Schierholtz was coming up. Derek Holland was warming up and if you look at what he did last series against the Yankees, he’s obviously a pretty damned good pitcher.”

Unfortunately for Holland, he’ll need a short memory to soon forget what happened next.

“I was in the bullpen hitting my spots,” Holland said. “And then I come out of the bullpen and couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn.”

Holland threw 13 pitches to three batters; one for a strike. Schierholtz walked on four pitches. Then Ross watched four go by to load the bases. Aubrey Huff ran the count to 3-0 before Holland finally landed one in the strike zone. The fifth pitch, a fifth consecutive fastball, missed and a run came home.

As the balls kept coming, Rangers manager Ron Washington and pitching coach Mike Maddux never got the bullpen warming. Washington said he thought Holland would correct his fastball, but he never could.

“Very frustrating. I’m happy with what he did,” Holland said of Washington sticking with him. “He had confidence in me. It’s my fault. I let him down. I let the team down in that situation. This is a very serious time.”

Finally, Mark Lowe got up. He came in and promptly walked a fourth consecutive batter, Juan Uribe, on five pitches. Suddenly, Wilson’s hard-fought battle against the near-perfect Cain was a 4-0 deficit. The Giants would make it 9-0 by the end of the inning.

Wilson helplessly watched his work unravel.

“No, I’m not surprised at all,” said Wilson, who got a no-decision in Game 1 against the Yankees after a strong start followed by an epic bullpen failure. “When you walk a metric-ton of people, they’re going to score.”

The Rangers obviously miss the services of injured eighth-inning set-up man Frankie Francisco, who remains with the club. He was almost teary-eyed when asked how badly it hurts to be out of commission and watch the bullpen spiral.

Francisco had been a valuable bridge to get to rookie closer Neftali Feliz, who has still not pitched in a save situation. Feliz hasn’t pitched since the ALCS clincher last Friday night and could have been an option to stop the bleeding in the eighth, but Washington said he never considered going to his 22-year-old fireballer.

“No, I didn’t,” Washington said. “I didn’t at all.”

Now the Rangers head home for a possible three games and needing to win four of the final five to capture the franchise’s first World Series. Nothing is predictable, as the first two games at AT&T Park have shown. Lee proved mortal and when Wilson gave everything he had, a tiny, but debilitating injury, a dead-bat offense and a bungling bullpen did him in.

“Trust me,” Holland said sternly. “The bullpen is going to be fine come Friday [for Game 3]. It’s a new day. We’re not going to sit and dwell on it. This game’s over and we’re going to come back and help this team win.”

Manager’s choice: Did Nippert earn it?

October, 27, 2010
SAN FRANCISCO -- In a matter of hours, Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington will have to turn in his completed 25-man roster. Holding up the works is his decision about the bullpen.

The predominantly right-handed hitting San Francisco Giants likely demand another right-hander reliever. The Rangers carried four lefties into the ALCS, but Clay Rapada is the most probable southpaw to sit out the World Series. But, which right-handed arm gets the call?

Mark Lowe, Scott Feldman and Dustin Nippert are Washington's choices. Only Nippert has made a postseason roster so far, making one appearance in the ALDS. Lowe hasn't pitched much since returning from surgery for a herniated disc. Feldman, the Opening Day starter who dropped out of the rotation shortly after the All-Star break, just hasn't had his stuff, even in relief.

Then there's Nippert. The 6-foot-8, 225-pounder has pitched well since coming of a six-week stint on the disabled list after frighteningly taking an Austin Jackson line drive off his head in a July game in Detroit. He came off the DL on Sept. 2 and has pitched some of his best baseball of the season.

In 10 relief outings, Nippert has logged 14 2/3 innings, allowing two earned runs on eight hits. Nippert would provide Washington with a right-handed long reliever to go with lefty Derek Holland.

Among those three right-handed arms, has Nippert earned the right to pitch in the World Series?

Matt Treanor 'basically bailed us out'

October, 26, 2010
SAN FRANCISCO -- Before Game 5 of the ALCS, when Matt Treanor would get behind the plate to catch C.J. Wilson for a chance to clinch the American League pennant, he was asked if this was the biggest game of his career.

He quickly responded, no.

"To be honest, every game this year has been the biggest game of my career," the 34-year-old Treanor said. "I started the year in the minors."
Ben and Skin go "Inside the Clubhouse" with Rangers LHP Derek Holland ad he talks World Series, World Series and more World Series!

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The Rangers' secondary catcher hit his first career postseason home run in the game and also knocked in the Texas Rangers' only other run in the loss, but his performance further illustrated just how valuable the unheralded catcher has been to the club this season.

Of all the trades that general manager Jon Daniels has produced to help propel Texas to its first World Series, perhaps the most overlooked one is the deal that quietly and shrewdly went down on March 22: The Rangers sent infielder Ray Olmedo to the Milwaukee Brewers for a backup catcher most fans in North Texas probably had never heard of before.

And if things had went as planned, they likely still wouldn't. Treanor was sent to Triple-A Oklahoma after spring training, another dose of hard reality for a player who's had to scrap for every inning he's played in the big leagues.

"You know you what, I kind of embraced my situation this year," Treanor said. "I knew that I was going to have to battle and there might have been a situation where the club would need me. It so happened that after game one or game two [of the regular season] I was called up and asked to fill a position."

Jarrod Saltalamacchia got injured out of the chute and backup Taylor Teagardencouldn't get comfortable swinging the bat. Treanor, affable, humble and hard-working, got the call up on April 9 and was behind the plate for the Rangers on April 11. It's been a two-way love affair ever since.

Now, the career journeyman who labored 10 years in the minor leagues before getting his shot with the Florida Marlins in 2004, will catch Wilson in their first World Series against the San Francisco Giants in Thursday's Game 2 at AT&T Park. It could be one of two starts with Wilson. Bengie Molina, acquired mid-seasoin, will handle the other pitchers.

"I can’t say enough about how important he’s been to our ballclub," third baseman and captain Michael Young said. "He might not get a lot of the publicity as some of our guys get, but if you ask everyone in our organization, top to bottom, and they’ll talk about what a massive impact Matt Treanor’s had on our team. He basically bailed us out early. He bailed out our catcher situation. He played hard, played hurt, was a leader, great clubhouse guy and just played extremely well. He’s a guy that we’re all really proud to call our teammate."

Treanor hit just .211, but he had some clutch shots -- who can forget the two-out, two-run, pinch-hit game-winning triple in the top of the ninth against his former Marlins during the team's longest win streak of the season? -- and he deftly handled a pitching staff in transition.

"He didn't make our club [out of spring training], but he committed himself to us," Washington said. "And because of the way things went early in the season with Salty and Teagarden, we were very fortunate that we had a guy of his standard to step in and continue to help our young pitching staff get through the season."

Treanor went on to post career highs for games played (82) -- starting a team-high 67 at catcher -- at-bats (237), runs (22), hits (50), homers (five), RBI (27) and walks (22). As Wilson's personal catcher in the postseason, Treanor's been remarkable getting on base with a team-best .545 on-base percentage in three games.

He has three hits in seven at-bats and has walked -- or limped -- to first base four other times, twice by walks and twice by getting plunked -- in consecutive at-bats -- in Game 2 of the ALDS. Both times he got hit to lead off the inning and both led to runs in the victory.

"Personally," Treanor said, "to be with a group of guys, not just in this situation in the postseason, but to be surrounded by this group all season where we were a true unit the whole year, it showed on the field and we got the wins."

Even when the club went out and acquired the veteran Molina in mid-season, Treanor accepted it and even welcomed it.

"Absolutely. He’s a guy that’s been in postseason play and I’m pretty sure that’s why they went to go look for him," Treanor said. "I’ve watched Bengie ever since he got here; the way he calls a game, the way he goes about his business, everything."

Don't believe him? The dog pile after clinching the ALCS pennant is proof.

"I’m on the bottom of the pile with him," Treanor said. "He was the first guy I’m looking for. I’m kissing him on the forehead. He had no idea what was going on."

Cliff Lee not worried about long layoff

October, 24, 2010
ARLINGTON, Texas -- By the time Cliff Lee takes the mound for Game 1 of the World Series Wednesday evening in San Francisco, eight days will have passed since he threw an eight-inning gem to beat the New York Yankees.

Click here for the whole story.



Adrian Beltre
.324 19 77 79
HRA. Beltre 19
RBIA. Beltre 77
RA. Beltre 79
OPSA. Beltre .879
WC. Lewis 10
ERAC. Lewis 5.18
SOY. Darvish 182