Rangers reach goal with another playoff chance
With champagne being sprayed around and on him, Texas Rangers
manager Ron Washington savored the moment and remembered a much
different scene in the same clubhouse at the end of last year’s
”After the Giants beat us, we stood in this room and we
committed ourselves to get back here and get another opportunity,”
Washington said. ”What we did, we gave ourselves another
The Rangers, who had to wait more than a decade between playoff
appearances before last year, now have won the AL West two seasons
in a row. Texas and NL East champion Philadelphia are the only
division winners from last season to repeat.
Even though Cliff Lee opted to return to Philadelphia instead of
staying with the Rangers after helping them get to their first
World Series, Texas still has much of the core from last year. Many
of the same players, and the same winning attitude.
”We’re actually the same in a lot of ways,” Michael Young
said. ”We’re really resilient, we play hard, and we expect to
Young, the team’s longest-tenured player in his 11th season, was
one of the few regulars in the lineup for Saturday afternoon’s game
The Rangers clinched their fifth AL West title Friday night with
a 5-3 victory over the Mariners combined with the Los Angeles
Angels’ 3-1 loss to Oakland about two hours later that set off a
celebration in Texas.
When the playoffs begin Friday, C.J. Wilson (16-7) will start
the opener for the Rangers.
Texas and Detroit went into Saturday tied for the second-best
record in the AL, both trying for homefield advantage in the first
round of the playoffs. The Rangers would have to finish a game
ahead of the Tigers, who won the season series between the two
teams. If not, Texas, faces the likelihood of opening the division
series at the New York Yankees in a rematch of last year’s AL
”I want to win as many games as I can. But I’m not going to do
it at the expense of getting into the playoffs fatigued,”
Washington said when asked about trying to overcome the Tigers.
”We won a division and it wasn’t easy. It was a grind. And the
guys I depended every day were out there every day. For us to go
further, they have to be mentally ready.
Washington will go with a four-man starting rotation during the
playoffs, but didn’t say Saturday which of the starters would
become part of an eight-man bullpens.
”I’m not ready to expose it yet,” Washington said.
With Lewis, Derek Holland (15-5) and Matt Harrison (14-9), who
pitched six innings to win Friday night, the Rangers have gotten a
club-record 45 victories from left-handed starters. That is the
most in the majors since the 1997 Mariners got 52 wins from lefty
Right-hander Colby Lewis (13-10) was 3-0 with a 1.71 ERA in his
four postseason starts last fall, throwing five scoreless innings
in his no-decision and winning the AL pennant-clinching game. The
other starter is converted reliever Alexi Ogando, the right-hander
given extra rest in September because of his workload.
”We’ve been trying to establish something with pitching for the
past three years and I think this year our young kids stepped up.
Our two veterans (Wilson and Lewis) stepped up and our bullpen
stepped up,” Washington said. ”To survive, you’ve got to pitch
and you’ve got to catch the ball. We know what type of offense we
have, but on any given night, pitching can stop that. Consistently
you’ve got to bring the defense and you’ve got to bring the
defense, and that’s what we’ve done.”
These Rangers can still hit, and primary additions Adrian Beltre
and Mike Napoli only added to that.
Napoli (.320, 26 homers) was acquired in a trade last offseason,
but Beltre chose the Rangers over the Angels when he was a free
agent after an All-Star season in Boston.
Despite missing 37 games with a left hamstring strain, Beltre
has 29 home runs and his third career 100-RBI season. His homer
Friday night was his ninth in 12 games.
”It’s been a blast. One of the main reasons I came here is
because I knew we’d have a good enough team to win all the way. But
it’s not over. This is the first step and hopefully we can do our
job and bring the World Series to North Texas,” Beltre said.
”It’s the same team from year ago that went to the World Series
beside Cliff Lee. … I knew we had good enough pitching, good
offense and a good defense. My opinion, it was my best chance to
get a ring.”
AP freelance writer Ken Sins contributed to this report.