Rangers get help to win 2nd straight AL West title
Elvis Andrus took off on a home run trot and Texas Rangers fans
cheered as he mimicked what was going on in a game 1,400 miles
A few minutes later, the fireworks lit up the Texas sky as the
Rangers wore fresh AL West championship T-shirts and celebrated
their second consecutive division title with several thousand fans
who stayed to wait and watch with them.
Texas trimmed its magic number to one with a 5-3 victory over
the Seattle Mariners when Josh Hamilton and Adrian Beltre hit long
home runs before Craig Gentry had an inside-the-park homer. The
Rangers still needed a loss by the chasing Los Angeles Angels to
clinch the division, which came about two hours later.
Los Angeles was already down 1-0 going into the fourth inning at
home against Oakland when Texas (91-66) ended its game.
When David DeJesus hit a solo homer for Oakland in the top of
the ninth for a 3-1 lead, what would be the final score, fans in
Texas watching the huge video screen erupted. Andrus took off on
his trot and then slid into home plate surrounded by his
”Elvis called it before it even happened. That was pretty
funny,” Michael Young said. ”That’s our moment. We were in our
ballpark. … Usually you kind of have a point where you can
dogpile on your field, celebrate, come up here (in the clubhouse)
and have a party. We weren’t sure how this was going to work out,
but you have 10,000 people in your home park sticking around, it
made it pretty sweet. We wouldn’t have written it up any other
It is the fifth division title for the Rangers, who last year
went to their first World Series.
The Rangers were in Oakland last season when they clinched their
first AL West crown since 1999. They had never won a playoff series
before beating Tampa Bay in the AL divisional series and the New
York Yankees in the AL championship series last October. San
Francisco won the World Series in five games.
”At the end of the World Series last year after the Giants beat
us, we stood in this room and we committed ourselves to get back
here and get another opportunity,” manager Ron Washington said in
the middle of the clubhouse celebration. ”Tonight is what we did,
we gave ourselves another opportunity.”
Rangers fans clapped and cheered on each of the Angels’ outs in
the bottom of the ninth. Many of the players disappeared into the
dugout when the second out was made, then came back after the final
out wearing new T-shirts and sprayed ginger ale on each other and
some of the fans. That was reminiscent of last year, when they did
that in deference to Hamilton’s well-documented substance abuse
Division championship T-shirts and caps were immediately
available for fans to buy, too. The team kept the doors open until
2 a.m. at three of its gift shops – at Rangers Ballpark and stores
in downtown Dallas and Fort Worth.
”It’s great. Now we have the opportunity to win a World
Series,” said Young, the team’s longest-tenured player in his 11th
season. ”It’s been incredible so far. We’re looking forward to the
A banner declaring their 2011 division championship was unfurled
high above center field soon after the Angels lost.
Texas still has five games left in the regular season, including
three next week in Los Angeles for the final series.
The playoffs are set to begin next Friday. The Rangers are tied
with AL Central champ Detroit for the second-best record, but would
have to finish a game ahead of the Tigers to get home-field
advantage in the playoffs and avoid a likely divisional series
opener at New York against the Yankees.
Matt Harrison (14-9) worked six innings for the Rangers against
Harrison retired 15 of the first 16 batters he faced until four
consecutive Mariners reached to start the sixth. Ichiro Suzuki had
an RBI single before Robinson walked to load the bases. Dustin
Ackley and Miguel Olivo followed with consecutive sacrifice
Gentry hit a liner to left-center in the fourth that rolled to
the wall after splitting the gap between two outfielders. Left
fielder Mike Carp and center fielder Trayvon Robinson both made
diving attempts to catch the ball, Robinson a few feet behind
”We did exactly what we were supposed to do, which is attack
the ball. We both felt we could get it,” Robinson said. ”Thank
God we didn’t collide with each other or we probably wouldn’t be
talking right now.”
The speedy Gentry initially wasn’t even running full speed, and
made a stutter-step rounding first base before realizing the ball
was rolling to the wall. He then took off and scored standing for
his first career homer (in 176 at-bats over 93 games).
It was the first inside-the-park homer for the Rangers since
Nelson Cruz at Oakland on Sept. 4, 2006. Cruz was on base when
Gentry got his. Washington even got the ball for Gentry to have as
That made it 5-0 and chased rookie left-hander Anthony Vasquez
(1-5), the Texas native who gave up three homers and seven hits
over 3 1-3 innings.
After Young led off the second with a single, his 206th hit of
the season, Beltre followed with a towering 409-foot homer to left,
his 29th. That also gave him 100 RBIs, his third career 100-RBI
season, and nine homers in 12 games.
An inning later, Hamilton went deep for the sixth time in 10
games. His 25th homer was a 433-foot solo blast over the Rangers
bullpen in right-center for a 3-0 lead.
”The one Beltre hit got us on the board first and Hamilton gave
us some room,” Washington said. ”Then Gentry hit one in the
perfect spot, split the outfielders and did the rest with his legs.
All of them were impressive.”