BARRY HORN'S ALDS OBSERVATIONS
1 Is there any doubt that the July trade for Cliff Lee was the best deal in franchise history? Lee was masterful against the Rays. He won both his start and set an AL Division Series record for strikeouts. At this rate, he'll command more than $20 million a year when he signs a new contract. Pressure has to be on Rangers to re-sign him.
2 Loosest of loose bunch of pregame Rangers was Jeff Francoeur, who started in right field after sitting out last three games. His looseness didn't translate into much production on the field (he was 0-for-4 and grounded into a doubleplay), but it did help keep the team in the right frame of mind.
3 Rocco Baldelli, removed from the Rays' roster after playing in the opening game because of a lingering muscle fatigue disease, threw out first pitch. Juliana Zobrist whose husband Ben started in right field for Rays, sang national anthem and "God Bless America." Nice touches by the Rays to keep it all in the family.
4 Forget about Elvis Andrus and Nelson Cruz and Vlad Guerrero on the base paths. The most unusual play of the game had to be catcher Bengie Molina, who moves with glacial speed, stealing second base uncontested in the second inning. He didn't even draw a throw. It was the fourth stolen base of Molina's 13-year career.
5 It has to be mentioned that the Rangers won the series without much offensive jolt from AL batting champion Josh Hamilton. He was 0-for-4 in Game 5, striking out twice. Overall, he was 2-for-18. His lone RBI came on first-inning groundout Tuesday when Elvis Andrus scored from second base.