Rangers resiliency being tested at World Series
Michael Young insists the Texas Rangers don't even talk about resiliency.
''You just have it or you don't,'' Young said Friday. ''We have it.''
Now they have to show how resilient they can really be. Or the first World Series in the franchise's 50 seasons could be over in a hurry.
Texas plays a World Series game at home for the first time Saturday night. Game 3 comes after the Rangers lost the first two games of the best-of-seven series in San Francisco while getting outscored 20-7.
''They're over with. This team has been really good at being a forward-thinking group and the last thing we're going to concern ourselves with is why things went wrong in the first two games,'' said Young, the longest-tenured Rangers player in his 10th season. ''We know how good we are, we know how tough this group is. So we'll be ready to roll for Game 3.''
They got out of San Francisco in a hurry, arriving home in the middle of the night and then holding a late afternoon workout at Rangers Ballpark.
Just a week earlier, the Rangers were celebrating their first AL pennant after a Game 6 victory at home over the defending world champion New York Yankees. Now they are back home already trying to dig out of a hole in the World Series.
''What's made us so resilient is these guys have been good at dealing with what is presented to them day to day,'' manager Ron Washington said. ''The key is to make sure that you stay in the moment and just continue to try to do what you're capable of doing.''
Texas came back to win the AL championship series after losing Game 1 at home after giving up five runs in the eighth inning of a 6-5 loss. There were consecutive losses in the division series against Tampa Bay after winning the first two, then clinching in Game 5.
''We're resilient because we've been through so much,'' C.J. Wilson said.
There have been injuries to key players. All-Star slugger Josh Hamilton, the majors' leading hitter at .359, missed 24 games in September after breaking two ribs; Ian Kinsler missed two months with two disabled list stints and Nelson Cruz went on the DL three times and missed 51 games with hamstring issues.
Cliff Lee, the ace left-hander acquired July 9, is with his fourth team in two seasons and is a free agent-to-be after the World Series.
Even before the season began, there was Washington's admission to using cocaine once late in the 2009 season after a failed drug test became public during spring training. And the drawn-out sale of the team that became a messy bankruptcy case before Chuck Greenberg and Nolan Ryan finally bought the Rangers in a federal court auction in August.
''We've bounced back a lot of times during the season,'' Kinsler said. ''We've had a lot of injuries. We've had guys constantly pick each other up. We've had different people play well at different times during the season and basically not carry the team, but be a force in the lineup. Right now, we need to do that.''
While everybody is relatively healthy now, they aren't hitting. The Rangers have a .227 batting average in the World Series. The big bats of Young, Hamilton and Cruz are a combined 3 for 25 (.120) with two RBIs (both by Cruz).
They're not pitching very well either with a team ERA of 10.69. After Lee got roughed up in Game 1 for his first-ever postseason loss with his shortest outing, four relievers gave up a seven-run inning in Game 2 after there were two outs with no runners on base.
Colby Lewis starts Game 3 for the Rangers, who need him to do what he's done his last two postseason starts - win at home after a Texas loss. The right-hander won Game 2 of the ALCS, then the Game 6 clincher.
Of the 51 previous times a team has won the first two games, the team jumping ahead went on to win the World Series 40 times. That includes the last seven, and 13 of 14. The one that didn't was the 1996 Atlanta Braves against the Yankees.
''I'll never forget the Braves being up 2-0. We all thought it was going to be back-to-back World Series,'' said Rangers outfielder Jeff Francoeur, an Atlanta-area native. ''That thing turned around in a hurry. To me you turn it around by pitching. We have good pitching. Yeah, we had a little meltdown in the eighth inning (Thursday), but I think if you ask anybody in this locker room we have confidence.''
This is the first time the Rangers have been down by two games in a series this postseason. They feel like they have only themselves to blame.
''It's frustrating to lose two. The most frustrating part is that we're in the World Series and we really haven't played our best baseball yet,'' outfielder David Murphy said. ''That's the key to focus on in Game 3 - to play our best baseball and see what happens. If we win or lose playing our best baseball, I think we can stomach that a lot better.''