After a 15-5 drumming of the Detroit Tigers on October 15, 2011, the Texas Rangers completed their defense of the American League title and returned to the World Series. Riding the most impressive display of power in playoff history, the Rangers allowed Nelson Cruz to carry their team to Fall Classic where they will face the St. Louis Cardinals. Cruz set a major league record with six homeruns in a single postseason series, including two in extra innings.
Cruz hit the decisive homerun in Game 1 against Tigers ace and MVP candidate Justin Verlander and the Rangers held on to a 3-2 victory. The next night, Nelly hit a solo shot off Max Scherzer in the 7th inning to tie the game at three, then ended the game with a walk-off grand slam in the 11th inning to give Texas a 2-0 series lead.
After falling in Game 3 by a score of 5-2, the Rangers responded with a 7-3 victory, as Nelson Cruz once again hit an 11th inning bomb to ensure a Rangers’ victory. With a chance to clinch in Detroit, Cruz again did all he could to help his team close out the series. Cruz took another Verlander fastball for a ride in the 8th inning, which pulled the Rangers within 7-4. Texas would tack on another run in the 9th and had a chance to tie the game, but Mike Napoli grounded out to end the game.
The Rangers returned home up 3-2 in the series needing only one more win to advance to a second straight World Series. With lefty Derek Holland (aka the Dutch Oven) on the mound, fans knew they could feel confident. At only 24 years old, Dutch possesses the “stuff” that could make him one of the most dynamic pitchers in Rangers history.
However, MVP candidate Miguel Cabrera lined a 1-2 fastball over the fence in right to give the Tigers an early 1-0 lead. The Tigers added another run in the 2nd inning with another solo homerun, this time by shortstop Jhonny Peralta. It looked as if the Rangers might be pushed to a decisive Game 7, but luckily, the bats came alive in the bottom of the 3rd inning.
Trailing 2-0, the inning started with a harmless groundout by Ian Kinsler. But then Elvis Andrus drew a one out walk and the Rangers’ offense was off and running. Hamilton singled to left and the face of the franchise, Michael Young, doubled to drive in two runs. Six more batters reached base after that and at the end of the inning, the Rangers had thrown up nine runs to take a 9-2 lead.
Dutch navigated through the fourth flawlessly, but surrendered a two run bomb to Austin Jackson in the 5th, which trimmed the lead to 9-4. Everyone’s favorite cocaine abuser, Ron Washington, promptly returned to his bullpen, and former Opening Day starter Scott Feldman got a flyout to end the 5th inning.
The Rangers tacked on another run in the bottom half of the 5th to extend the lead to 10-4, and the Rangers were twelve outs from the World Series. Enter Alexei Ogando, the Rangers’ secret weapon out of the bullpen. Ogando allowed only a single to the hot-hitting Victor Martinez while striking out three in two innings of work.
Michael Young found his power in the bottom of the 7th, crushing a solo bomb to center field. Three batters later, Nelson Cruz made history by launching his sixth homerun of the series into the stands in left field. Jubilation was written all over the Rangers’ faces, as the lead had been pushed to 15-4 with only two innings to play.
Trade deadline acquisition Mike Adams came on in the 8th inning and allowed only one run on another Miguel Cabrera homerun. The atmosphere at the Ballpark was electric as the Rangers were only three outs from another World Series berth.
Closer Neftali Feliz came on in the 9th inning to work a perfect frame, recording the last out on a Brandon Inge popup to Michael Young. The celebration ensued on the field, with bottles of ginger ale and championship t-shirts for all members of the team and coaching staff.
The Rangers advanced to the second World Series in franchise history, both occurring in the last two years. They will face the St. Louis Cardinals, after they defeated the Milwaukee Brewers in six games. Game 1 is in St. Louis on Wednesday night and will feature CJ Wilson vs. Chris Carpenter.