Texas Rangers: World Series

Mike Napoli one game from title (again)

October, 29, 2013
For several former Texas Rangers, Game 6 on Wednesday night is a chance at redemption. Boston Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia battled a case of the yips (he couldn't throw the ball back to the pitcher's mound consistently) and had to go to Triple-A with the Rangers to get it sorted out. Closer Koji Uehara (and his splitter) has made getting the final three outs look much easier than it should.

But Napoli, who would have likely been the 2011 World Series MVP had the Rangers finished the job, told the Boston Herald last week prior to the World Series, that it's motivated him ever since he left St. Louis after a loss in Game 7.

"I think about it all the time," Napoli told the newspaper. "I'll be home, sitting on the couch watching baseball, and you always play the what-ifs. What if I called a slider there (to Freese)? Or what if Nelly caught that ball? You go through that all the time. It hurts to this day. It was so close. That's the closest you could possibly be, and I was right there -- twice. For me, it took a while to get over. I don't think I'll ever get over it."

Now, he has an opportunity. Again. Napoli had to watch most of the three games in St. Louis without the DH in play. But with David Ortiz shifting back to DH, Napoli should be at first base Wednesday night as the Red Sox try to win the World Series at Fenway Park for the first time since 1918.

Napoli is easy to pull for. He's a good guy, a hard worker and someone who constantly supports his teammates. Perhaps in the next few days, he'll also win a title.

Skipper expects 'tremendous' World Series

October, 23, 2013
Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington isn't one of those skippers that doesn't watch the playoffs just because his team isn't in it. He said this week that he's watched all of the postseason and is expecting a great World Series between Boston and St. Louis. Game 1 is tonight at Fenway Park.

"I think it’s going to be a tremendous series," Washington said. "They are the two best teams because they are the teams at the end. Both teams have great bullpens. Both teams have starting pitching. Both teams have difference makers. [It] should be a great World Series."

Washington wouldn't predict a winner, saying that he never does that. But he'll be watching to see how it all plays out. And you can bet he'll be keeping an eye on his former players. First baseman Mike Napoli has had some clutch hits this postseason for the Red Sox. Reliever Koji Uehara has used his devastating splitter to become a dominant closer. Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia has a walk-off hit to his name in these playoffs as well.

Back to St. Louis: These aren't those Texas Rangers

June, 21, 2013
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Ron Washington won't have any flashbacks when he walks back into Busch Stadium on Friday afternoon. He said so.

Eric Nadel joins Galloway & Company to discuss the Rangers returning to St. Louis for the first time since their World Series loss to the Cardinals in 2011.

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We know that won't be true. This isn't like going to Minute Maid Park.

The Rangers are making their first return to the scene where they came so close to winning it all.

One strike away -- twice.

One catch away.

A lot has changed since the Rangers lost Game 6 of the 2011 World Series to the Cardinals in heartbreaking fashion. And then Game 7.

These aren't those Rangers anymore. Josh Hamilton is gone. Michael Young, too. Mike Napoli. C.J. Wilson. Scott Feldman. Darren Oliver. Mark Lowe.

[+] EnlargeNelson Cruz
AP Photo/Charlie RiedelThe Rangers are returning to St. Louis for the first time since their heartbreaking World Series loss there in 2011.
So instead of flashing back, let's look forward to the more pressing question.

Can the Rangers get back to the World Series?

The Rangers are in position to make another run. They're only one game back of the Oakland Athletics in the AL West after taking three of four games -- all comeback wins -- from the A's this week. This silver lining capped a disappointing 11-game homestand where they suffered through one of the worst offensive ruts in franchise history.

Health and the success of front office maneuvering will likely determine whether the Rangers make a fourth straight playoff appearance and get to their third World Series in four seasons.

Reinforcements are on the way for the beat-up pitching staff in the next month. Reliever Joakim Soria should come first, and the former closer will give a major shot in the arm to an already solid bullpen. Then Alexi Ogando. And Colby Lewis. And then Matt Harrison and Neftali Feliz.

Just getting two back would arm the Rangers for the stretch run and potentially make them a team to beat in the American League.

The Rangers' minor league system is healthy at all levels, and the blockbuster trade they didn't make in the offseason could happen around the July 31 trade deadline.

ESPN Insider and senior baseball analyst Jim Bowden joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss some interesting trade ideas for the Rangers.

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Maybe a key bat. Maybe Cliff Lee.

The Rangers are ninth in the AL in runs scored, so the offense must pick it up. The return of Ian Kinsler and Mitch Moreland, who is enjoying a breakout season, will help immensely.

Jurickson Profar is here to stay, and he will only get better. The 20-year-old infielder and, maybe, soon-to-be outfielder could provide that youthful exuberance in September.

Despite the injury to Ogando and placing two rookies in the rotation, the Rangers are fourth in the AL with a respectable 3.76 ERA.

And the Rangers need look no further than across the field to see a club that has handled transition well since the 2011 World Series. The Cardinals have moved on from Albert Pujols and boast baseball's best record at 47-26. They made the playoffs last season, too.

The Rangers aren't the same team they were during their last visit to St. Louis. Maybe a club in a little bit of transition. Maybe not.

But they're poised to contend this season. And the next. And beyond.

Maybe the next time that Washington walks into a ballpark full of memories for the first time since playing in a World Series, he'll think about the final out -- and the Rangers dog pile that ensued.

Crystal ball: Who wins World Series?

October, 24, 2012

Game 1 of the World Series is finally here and for the first time since 2009, it doesn't include the Texas Rangers. But that doesn't have to stop us from predicting a winner, does it?

Justin Verlander goes out for Game 1 in the hopes of getting the Detroit Tigers an early lead and taking homefield away from the San Francisco Giants, at least momentarily.

But these Giants have already won six straight elimination games, so even if they fall behind in the series or things don't look like they are going in their favor, don't count them out.

Still, I'm taking the Tigers in six games. I do think it may take the bats a little time to get going because of the long layoff Detroit had while waiting for the NLCS to finish, but they'll come around and the starting pitching of the Tigers should hold the Giants down long enough to get the title. We'll see.

So who are you picking? Give us your prediction, how many games and why.

Was Nelson Cruz supposed to come out of Game 6?

October, 5, 2012
ARLINGTON, Texas – Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington said he doesn’t remember giving Endy Chavez any indication that he was going to enter Game 6 of the 2011 World Series as a defensive replacement for Nelson Cruz.

Chavez told FoxSports.com on Thursday that he was supposed to be in the outfield after he pinch-hit in the top of the ninth of Game 6. Nelson Cruz ended up staying in the game and with the Rangers one strike away from the title, watched as David Freese’s game-tying triple went over his head.

“I don’t remember anything like that,” Washington said about the possibility of Chavez going into the game defensively. “Any information you get further on that, let Endy Chavez tell you. I can’t reflect back that far right now. You want the answer to that, go talk to Endy Chavez. I’m thinking about the game today.”

The Rangers face the Baltimore Orioles in the AL wild-card game with the winner hosting the first two games of the ALDS against the New York Yankees.

Chavez told FoxSports.com that he thought he was going in and was called back.

“They called me in from the field,” Chavez said. “I was surprised. I didn’t know (Freese’s) ball was going to be hit that way. We were winning the game by two runs. I didn’t think it was that big a deal.”

Chavez added: “I know something for sure: I didn’t sleep that night just thinking about it.”

The Rangers didn’t use Chavez as a late-inning defensive replacement much during the season or the playoffs, though he did come in during a late-season blowout win to give Cruz a break.

Washington was more concerned about the game at hand, a win-or-go-home scenario against the Orioles after the Rangers blew a five-game lead with nine to play in the AL West, which the Oakland A’s won on Wednesday.

Deadline talk: Cliff Lee

July, 30, 2012

Maybe there is still one big starting pitching fish that is now swimming in the trade deadline pond. ESPN.com's Buster Olney reports that the Philadelphia Phillies have put Cliff Lee in play in trade talks today. Olney notes that the Rangers are clearly the most logical place for Lee to go and that Mike Olt could be a centerpiece to the deal.

ESPN MLB analyst Rick Sutcliffe praises Rangers president Nolan Ryan and manager Ron Washington for how they've handled star Josh Hamilton's slump.

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That makes some sense. The Rangers obviously know what Lee can do. He helped them win the club's first playoff series with terrific starts in Games and 1 and 5 of the ALDS against Tampa Bay in 2010 and then hung over the ALCS as the Game 3 starter, winning that one as the Rangers took a 2-1 lead in the series and then ended up getting into their first World Series by beating the New York Yankees in that series.

Lee is older now and his stats this year aren't as good, but he's the type of pitcher you want with the ball when it matters in the postseason. He has a 3.95 ERA and a 1-6 record, Lee is allowing about a hit an inning and opponents are hitting .342 against Lee with the bases loaded. So he's not the same dominant pitcher he was in 2010. But he still has 8.5 strikeouts per nine innings, 1.8 walks per nine innings and a 46.7 percent ground ball rate in the 118 1/3 innings he's pitched this season.

But the key stat might be his postseason numbers: 7-3, 2.52 ERA in 11 starts (82 innings). That includes three complete games. He has 89 strikeouts and 10 walks in the playoffs.

It will cost a nice package of prospects, but they would have Lee under contract for three seasons after this one as the front man of their rotation. To make a deal work, the Phillies would need to pay part of Lee's remaining deal (and it's a big deal, so it would need to be a pretty big chunk of change). That contract:

2012: $21.5 million
2013: $25 million
2014: $25 million
2015: $25 million
2016: $12.5 million buyout or $27.5 million option (the option vests at 200 innings pitched in 2015 or 400 innings pitched in 2014 and 2015 combined)

Lee will be 38 years old in August of that final season of the deal in 2016. But he would give them a top-flight pitcher for Game 1 of the playoffs and immediately make the rotation deeper and better. The question is at what cost -- both in prospects and money -- and that's what the Rangers must sort through over the next day.

Would you trade a package of prospects that included Olt to the Phillies for Lee? They haven't wanted to part with Olt to this point. Is Lee worth dealing him? What if it meant Olt and Martin Perez (and you can bet the Phillies are asking for that)? Is that too much (that might depend on how much money the Phillies are paying of Lee's deal)?

Give us your proposed deal and why.

Stark's strange but true feats (Texas edition)

December, 26, 2011
Jason Stark put together his "strange but true feats" from the postseason. And, of course, the Rangers were fully involved in those feats, thanks to Game 6 of the World Series and Nelson Cruz's phenomenal ALCS. So here is the Rangers edition of Stark's piece. Click here to read the whole thing:
It was a postseason full of classic, magical and often downright crazy games. But is there any doubt which game towers above the rest? I saw Game 6 of the World Series with my very own eyeballs. I still don't believe stuff like this happened:

according to the Elias Sports Bureau, only three teams in the last 40 years (2006 Red Sox, 1996 Red Sox, 1995 Cubs) have won a regular-season game in which they trailed at least five times. And no team had ever done that in a World Series game. But the Cardinals trailed in this game by scores of 1-0, 3-2, 4-3, 7-4 and 9-7 -- and won. Unreal.

" There had been 1,329 games in the history of postseason baseball before this one. Not once had a team scored in the eighth, ninth, 10th and 11th innings of the same game. But the Cardinals did it in this game. Of course they did!

" The Rangers blew two saves in their final 41 regular-season games combined. So of course, they then blew three saves in this game in the last six innings.

" Might as well mention that the Rangers had two MONTHS this year (June and September) when they didn't blow three saves. And they were working on a streak of 965 games (regular season and postseason), over six seasons, without ever blowing three save opportunities in one game until this extravaganza came along.

" Never had both teams homered in extra innings at any point during an entire Series. Then, naturally, each team homered in extra innings just in this GAME (Josh Hamilton in the 10th, David Freese in the 11th).

" There wasn't a game played in the big leagues during the entire regular season that featured extra-inning homers in two innings by two teams, according to the Sultan of Swat Stats, SABR home run historian David Vincent. And the Rangers hadn't played a game like that in 15 years. But it happened in this game.

Non-Game 6 related Rangers feats:

" Nelson Cruz had as many homers in October (eight) as he had HITS in September (in 42 at-bats).

" Only one manager in the American League issued fewer intentional walks during the regular season than Ron Washington (21 all year). So he was pretty much the perfect candidate to become the first manager in American League HISTORY to issue nine intentional walks in a World Series. Right?

" Your ALCS MVP, Nelson Cruz, had eight extra-base hits in that LCS (six homers, two doubles) -- but never did mix in a single.
Again, click here to read the whole story.

Dazzling Dozen: Napoli's Game 5 double

November, 24, 2011
We've arrived at No. 1 in our Dazzling Dozen. Some of you won't agree with our choice and that just shows how many memorable moments this team had in 2011. Any of our top 4, really, could have been No. 1.

No. 1: Mike Napoli's two-run double in Game 5

With the series tied at two games each following Derek Holland's stellar performance in Game 4, the Rangers hosted Game 5 in front of 50,000-plus at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Knowing the series shifted back to Busch Stadium for Games 6 and 7, the Rangers felt like they had to win Game 5 to have a good chance at winning the World Series.

[+] EnlargeMike Napoli
AP Photo/Eric GayMike Napoli's double drove in two runs in the eighth inning of Game 5 of the World Series.
The Cardinals scored two runs in the second off starter C.J. Wilson, but the left-hander shut them down after that. The offense responded with one run in the third and another in the sixth to tie the score. Then, in the bottom of the eighth, Ranger fans got to see a little bit of everything.

Octavio Dotel came in to pitch and allowed a double to Michael Young, who clapped his hands as he arrived at second as the potential go-ahead run. Adrian Beltre struck out and the Cardinals decided to intentionally walk Nelson Cruz and bring in left-handed reliever Marc Rzepczynski to pitch to left-handed hitter David Murphy. But Murphy, who seemed to save some of his best at-bats for the postseason (and hit just .215 against left-handed pitchers in 2011), hit a hard grounder to the mound that bounced off Rzepczynski's leg and rolled to second baseman Nick Punto, who couldn't field it cleanly enough to get Murphy. The infield hit loaded the bases with no outs.

Mike Napoli arrived at home plate and, with no one apparently ready in the bullpen, stepped in to face Rzepcyznski. It was puzzling because Napoli crushed left-handed pitching in 2011, batting .319 against them. Rzepcyznski said he wasn't surprised to still be in because left-handed hitter Mitch Moreland was on deck and sometimes he pitched to a right-handed hitter with a lefty waiting. It's worth pointing out that manager Ron Washington altered the bottom of his lineup when the series got back to Arlington to put Napoli in the 8-hole between two left-handed hitters just to make Tony La Russa have to decide how to pitch to Napoli.

But with no alternatives fully ready, there was little choice. Napoli got a pitch he could hit on the outside part of the plate and drove it the other way for a two-run double. The fans went crazy and immediately closer Neftali Feliz started to get warm in anticipation of a save opportunity.

The craziness of the inning wasn't over. After Rzepcynzki struck out Mitch Moreland, Lance Lynn came in from the bullpen. When La Russa saw him trotting in, he was confused. He had called for the right-hander, figuring that finally closer Jason Motte was ready. But in came Lynn.

"I said, 'Why are you here?'" La Russa said after the game.

So Lynn intentionally walked Ian Kinsler and then left the game. Motte, who was finally ready, came in and struck out Elvis Andrus. But the damage was done. Feliz hit Allen Craig to start the ninth, but the speedy runner was thrown out at second by Napoli. Feliz struck out Lance Berkman to end the game and give the Rangers the franchise's biggest win to that point.

After the game, La Russa was left to explain some strange decisions with his bullpen. He said the ballpark was so loud as the 51,459 fans screamed that there was miscommunication between the dugout and the coaches in the bullpen. He wanted Motte up and throwing to pitch to Napoli, but they thought he said Lynn. La Russa said Lynn was not supposed to be available and didn't want him throwing to Kinsler and that's why he was walked. But Motte wasn't up and throwing quickly enough to get warm for Napoli, forcing Rzepcynzki to throw to him. Motte didn't start throwing until Lynn walked out of the bullpen. In other words: The Cardinals couldn't seem to get things straight as to which pitchers were supposed to get warm. And the Rangers took advantage.

Kinsler was asked after the game: What if the Rangers win the World Series in part because of the noise level of the crowd?

"They all get rings," said Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler, though he added that he's not buying.

He added: "If that's the truth, I can believe it, because it's been incredibly, incredibly loud. I think everyone in here has said it before, we've been to Tampa, Detroit, New York, St. Louis, San Francisco, and this is the loudest outdoor ballpark we've even been at. They are great fans. It's a great way to go out. Hopefully, they'll be that loud screaming at the TV when we're in St. Louis."

What it meant: The Rangers took a 3-2 lead back to St. Louis, putting themselves in great position to win the World Series. They ended up a strike away twice, but couldn't close the deal in Game 6 and then lost in Game 7. But it's considered one of the best World Series ever played, full of drama and even some craziness (like the eighth inning of Game 5).

The aftermath: Texas didn't win its first World Championship, but Game 5 showed once again what a huge home-field advantage Rangers Ballpark in Arlington can be. Those that attended agreed that it was the loudest they'd ever heard that park (even louder than Game 6 of the ALCS in 2010). It's the kind of atmosphere the Rangers hope to continue to see in postseasons to come.

Oliver will take time to decide about 2012

October, 29, 2011
ST. LOUIS -- Rangers reliever Darren Oliver didn't want to make any decisions regarding the 2012 season shortly after the Rangers lost Game 7 of the World Series. Who can blame him?

He was asked after the 6-2 loss to the Cardinals whether that was his final game.

"I don't know," Oliver said. "I'm not going to say that right now. I can't answer a question like that now. To be continued, how about that?"

Oliver, who turned 41 years old earlier this month, didn't want to make a choice about that as he still felt the emotions of not winning. The fact that he's come so close with the Rangers the last two seasons might impact whether he wants to see if the club is interested in having him back for one more season and see what happens. But he didn't give any indication that he was leaning either way.

Oliver has been one of the club's most reliable relievers the last two seasons. He posted a 2.48 ERA in 61 2/3 innings in 2010, vesting his option for 2011 (the club would have certainly picked it up anyway). He had a 2.29 ERA in 51 innings in 2011.

Live in-game chat: World Series Game 7

October, 28, 2011
ST. LOUIS -- Join us for a live in-game chat as the Texas Rangers take on the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 7 of the World Series. Richard Durrett, Jeff Caplan and Jean-Jacques Taylor all are in attendance for ESPNDallas.com. The room is now open. Feel free to jump in and ask some questions, participate in polls and then join in the conversation when the game begins at 7:05 p.m.

Matt Harrison prepares for last stand

October, 28, 2011
ST. LOUIS -- Just like every player in the Texas Rangers dugout, Matt Harrison was ready to party. Yet, through the wild ups and downs of the final few innings of Game 6, no other player carried the emotional burden of being the potential Game 7 starting pitcher.

The young, left-hander rode every rise and dip of the rollercoaster, at one moment figuring he was a world champ and could ice his inning-logged arm for the winter, to suddenly having to ramp up to start the biggest game in franchise history tonight at 7:05 p.m. at will be a raucous Busch Stadium.

"It is a little weird. We thought in the ninth inning that we had it wrapped up there," Harrison said after the St. Louis Cardinals pulled out the improbable 10-9 victory in 11 innings to tie the series with one to go. "But, they’ve been fighting and srapping all series and so have we. Emotionally it was kind of a rollercoaster sitting there watching it and thinking it was going to be over and then it not be.

"And now, I’m pitching. That’s the way it goes. I’ve kind of flipped the switch where that’s over with and got to get ready. That’s just the way it goes and we’ve got one more to win."

Harrison didn't get out of the fourth inning in a strange Game 3 that included the blown call at first and the two-run error by Mike Napoli in his lone World Series start at first base. But, Harrison also couldn't put an end to the bleeding. When he exited with two outs in the fourth inning, five runs had crossed the plate, three earned, on six hits and a walk.

In three postseason starts, Harrison hasn't pitched more than five innings. How long he can go in Game 7 could be a significant key to the Rangers' success because a bullpen that virtually carried an underwhelming starting staff to this point is now under the gun.

Derek Holland, expected prior to Game 6 to be able to go several innings in Game 7 if needed, might now be good for one after throwing two innings in the gut-punch loss.

Harrison will be facing a Cardinals lineup that is feeling good about itself again. Albert Pujols put a good swing on a ball in the ninth inning off Neftali Feliz for the first time since his historic Game 3 performance. David Freese crushed his last two at-bats, Allen Craig is back to doing damage and Lance Berkman is the leading MVP candidate if St. Louis pulls off the comeback.

"I'm going to try to keep as calm as I can," Harrison said. 'I know what’s at stake, but I still got to go in and pitch my game and stick to my game plan and go out and execute pitches. You've got to take the same approach that Holland did [in Game 4]. You have to pitch them inside, make them uncomfortable, make your pitches when you need to and throw the offspeed for strikes."

If Harrison can do all that, he will surely go down in World Series lore.

Washington talks to team, stays calm

October, 28, 2011

ST. LOUIS -- Rangers manager Ron Washington walked into the visiting clubhouse after a gut-wrenching 10-9 loss to the Cardinals in Game 6 and faced his shell-shocked team.

Washington didn't have much to say and got right to point. He told them to keep their heads up and that they had one more game to play in the season and they were capable of winning it.

Michael Young spoke up, saying the team has bounced back all year and would do it again. Then the players started talking more to each other.

"They're disappointed and they should be disappointed," Washington said. "But that's the way it goes. It's never over until the last out and we didn't get the last out. But every time that happened, my fighting shoes were back on. They just took care of it in their last at-bat."

Washington said he'll be wearing those fighting shoes for Game 7 and so will the rest of his team.

"The series was seven games," Washington said. "We've got to play seven games."

Players spoke to the media after plastic tarps had been rolled up and put on top of the lockers and televisions covered in preparation for a champagne shower that didn't happen after Game 6. Even champagne bottles were quickly hustled out of the clubhouse.

Many Rangers talked about moving on and getting ready for Game 7.

"I think it shows our character and kind of defines us," first baseman Mitch Moreland said. "We don't let stuff like this bother us. Those games are going to happen. We fought and they fought and they won. The end result is they came out the winner. We've got a game tomorrow and we'll come out and play. They won the game."

Derek Holland, who pitched some in Game 6, said he's ready to pitch if needed in Game 7. And he's confident his teammates will be focused and prepared for Game 7.

"We have to push through it, keep battling it and be ready to go," Holland said. "We've been capable of bouncing back all the time. It's a new day and we know what's on the line."

Notes: Rangers aren't worried about cold

October, 27, 2011

ST. LOUIS -- The weather forecast calls for chilly conditions in Busch Stadium tonight, with low of 40 degrees and relatively no wind.

Coop and Nate preview Game 6 as the Rangers are a win away from a franchise-first World Series title.

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"I think [Adrian] Beltre will be out there sleeveless, might see Michael [Young] out there sleeveless, [Ian] Kinsler out there sleeveless," Washington said. "But I'll have on some clothes."

Washington said he's not concerned about the temperature and that his team will be ready to play no matter the conditions.

"Cold is not the factor," Washington said. "Jaime Garcia will be the factor."

Other notes:

* Washington said Derek Holland is available out of the bullpen and he won't be afraid to use him even if the club is down one run. He'll worry about keeping them in Game 6 and not about a possible Game 7. Washington wasn't sure if C.J. Wilson was available or not (he hadn't talked to pitching coach Mike Maddux about it yet).

* Even a day later, Washington said MLB made the right call in postponing Game 6. "You don't want that starting and stopping, especially with the importance of the game for both sides," Washington said. "You want to be able to start a baseball game and play a baseball game."

* Washington said he's seen that there are a fair number of Rangers fans in St. Louis. "They are excited and they should be excited," Washington said. "It's awesome."

* There were no changes to Washington's lineup overnight. "I already had that done and didn't even have to worry about it," Washington said.

Texas fans in St. Louis hope to see history

October, 27, 2011
ST. LOUIS -- Kit Lefevre and Jansen Yarbrough of Abilene drove 14 hours to St. Louis and arrived about lunch time on Wednesday. Others, like Jason Mazingo, Josh Gentry (no relation to Rangers outfielder Craig Gentry) and Cameron Symes of Tyler and Dalton Cox, a student at Texas Tech, flew in to see what they hope is the biggest win in Rangers history.

All of them purchased tickets online, spending at least $300 per seat to have a chance to witness Game 6 of the World Series.

"This is one of three things on my sports bucket list," 29-year-old Symes said hours before the start of the game. "I want to see, in-person, the Cowboys in a Super Bowl, the Masters and the Rangers in a World Series. I can now mark one of those off my list."

Mazingo and Gentry felt like it could be a once-in-a-lifetime moment.

"Even though it's two in a row, you don't know if they'll be back," said Mazingo, a 31-year-old attorney from Tyler. "It's one of the hardest championships to win."

Cox, who is from Abilene but attending Texas Tech, is skipping some school in order to be here.

"We wanted to see this," Cox said. "Given everything they've been through, the losing, the bankruptcy. This is great. It's time to put the little AL trophy aside and get the big one."

Yarbrough believes the Rangers win it tonight.

"It's done," Yarbrough said. "Colby gets it done."

Added Cox: "Colby has been a beast in the playoffs. No Cliff Lee, no problem."

All of the fans mentioned that St. Louis fans have been welcoming.

"It's been great here," Gentry said. "They just want to talk baseball on the train and chat about what's going on. We've seen a lot of Rangers fans in the bars and around St. Louis. We're here."

Numbers: Rangers following Mavs' path?

October, 27, 2011
We've discussed how similiar the run the Rangers are making right now is to the way the Mavericks' did it earlier this year. Alok Pattani of ESPN Stats & Information took a closer look.

The Matchup:

The team with home-field advantage is making its first appearance in the championship round since winning in 2006 (the Miami Heat and the St. Louis Cardinals). This team has a superstar who has won multiple MVPs and is generally considered to be the best player in the league at the moment, if not one of the all-time greats in LeBron James and Albert Pujols.

The team without home-field advantage hails from North Texas, is making its second appearance in the championship series, and has never won a title despite being a member of the league for a long time. The Mavericks and Rangers are each making their second championship appearance, the Mavericks not having won 30 previous seasons, the Rangers not having won in 50.

“Team 1” refers to the team with home-field advantage in the series (Cardinals/Heat) and “Team 2” refers to the Texas team without home-field advantage (Rangers/Mavericks).

Game 1:

The game is relatively close before Team 1 pulls away late to get the win. Team 1’s superstar contributes to the victory.

2011 NBA Finals: The Mavericks were within 3 points with under seven minutes left, but the Heat held on for a 92-84 victory. LeBron James finished with a team-high 24 points, nine rebounds, five assists.

2011 World Series: The game was tied at 2 going into the bottom of the sixth inning before Allen Craig came up with a pinch-hit RBI single. The Cardinals held on a for a 3-2 victory. Albert Pujols goes 0-4 but walked and scored in the 4th inning.

Game 2:

It looks as if Team 1 is about to take a commanding 2-0 lead in the series, but Team 2 rallies for a dramatic win to tie it up. A veteran All-Star helps account for the game-winning score.

2011 NBA Finals: The Heat had a 88-73 lead with seven minutes left, but the Mavericks finished the game on a 22-5 run and won on a layup with 3.6 seconds left by Dirk Nowitzki, who has been with the Mavericks for his 13-year career.

2011 World Series: The Cardinals led 1-0, but the Rangers rallied on two sacrifice flies in the top of the ninth inning. Michael Young, who has been with the Rangers for his 12-year career, had the game-winning RBI.

Game 3:

Despite Team 2 seemingly having the momentum after a Game 2 win, Team 1 regains home-field advantage with a win on the road in North Texas.

The Heat defeated the Mavericks, 88-86 in Dallas. The Cardinals defeated the Rangers, 16-7 in Arlington.

Game 4:

Team 2 takes control of the game late and evens up the series. Team 1’s superstar has a tough game and fails to deliver in the clutch.

2011 NBA Finals: The Mavericks finished the game on a 21-9 run and won, 88-86. LeBron James finished with a playoff career-low eight points, including zero points in the fourth quarter.

2011 World Series: The Rangers took command of the game on a three-run HR by Mike Napoli in the bottom of the sixth inning and won, 4-0. Albert Pujols finished 0-for-4, including a fly out with two runners on in the top of the ninth.

Game 5:

Team 2 takes its first lead of the series with another win in which it pulls away late. Team 1’s superstar has a game that looks pretty good in the box score, but he again fails to deliver in the clutch.

2011 NBA Finals: The Mavericks went on a 10-1 run in the final five minutes and won 112-103. LeBron James finished with a triple-double, but scored only two points in the fourth quarter.

2011 World Series: The Rangers rallied to tie the game in the sixth and scored two runs in the eighth inning, holding on to win the game 4-2. Albert Pujols reached base three times but struck out with a runner on first base in the ninth inning.

What’s Next?

The Mavericks went on to win the franchise’s first NBA title. If the World Series follows the same pattern, another Texas team will be lifting the championship trophy in St. Louis.



Colby Lewis
10 5.18 133 170
BAA. Beltre .324
HRA. Beltre 19
RBIA. Beltre 77
RA. Beltre 79
OPSA. Beltre .879
ERAC. Lewis 5.18
SOY. Darvish 182