Top Of The World, Ma!: Rangers 5, Rays 1

I know, I know. It’s only one game. I shouldn’t get this excited when the magic number is 3 for the ALDS. But I can’t help it. This is the Rangers’ first playoff win in 14 years, people!!!

Eleven years after their last appearance on the post-season stage and 14 years after their first post-season win, the Rangers doubled their lifetime post-season win total with a 5-1 win over the Rays in Game 1 of the ALDS.

Settling down to watch the DVR-taped game (and trying to successfully watch a taped game without fast-forwarding through anything except the commercials), I found my patience pushed right from the get-go. Following a scoreless top of the first in which the Rangers had two hits, the Rays responded in the bottom of the first with three singles to load the bases with just one out. I was very tempted at that point, telling myself, “If this is going to be a long day, I don’t know if I can handle watching the agony of it all!”

But I resisted the urge. I stayed right there, hands off the fast forward button on the remote. And Cliff Lee worked out of it. Two strikeouts later and the inning was over with no damage done.

Then the Rangers struck against David Price, with both of my picks to click coming through! A Jeff Francoeur double brought home Ian Kinsler with the first run. One out later, Bengie Molina’s single plated Francoeur and it was 2-0 Texas!

Nelson Cruz’ solo shot in the third made it 3-0. Molina hit a solo shot to in the 4th to make it 4-0. Vlad Guerrero sent Josh Hamilton home with the fifth and final run in the fifth on a double.

Meanwhile, Cliff Lee totally settled down after the second inning, retiring twelve in a row at one point. Lee set a Rangers playoff record with 10 strikeouts, the only blemish on his day a 7th inning Ben Zobrist home run.

I was tempted to hit that fast forward button again in the 9th when Neftali Feliz came in to get the last three outs. In a non-save situation, Feliz walked the first two batters. I feared the worst. After the first walk, Elvis Andrus came over to try to keep Feliz calm. Two pitches into the next batter, Bengie Molina came out to give him a pep talk. After the second straight walk, pitching coach Mike Maddux joined Molina. Whether this was another pep talk or a dressing down, it worked. Feliz struck out two of the next three batters and the Rangers had their second playoff win in history!

TBS’ announcers mentioned something I’d been thinking of earlier but hadn’t had a chance to mention, when they brought up the upcoming Reds-Phillies game, being started by Edinson Volquez for the Reds. Volquez was the player the Reds received in the trade sending Josh Hamilton to Texas. Both are now in the playoffs for the first time in 2010. I wonder, would the Rangers be here now if the trade had never happened, if Volquez were a Ranger today. I can’t help but think they would be a team still another step away from being a playoff contender. Definitely a trade that turned out to be a win-win for both teams!

In one game, the end of a 9-game playoff losing streak, the first road win of 2010 against a team in the AL playoffs and the first win in Ron Washington’s managerial career.

Still two wins to go to get to the next level, but I like our chances with CJ Wilson on the mound Thursday.

In closing, another round of thanks for one and all who have been reading throughout the season or even just the past couple of weeks. I’m humbled to have my words pop up in MLBlogs’ top 50 for the month of September at #31. I almost wish I’d slipped to #32- Josh Hamilton’s number. But there’s no Ranger wearing #31 right now, so I guess I’ll claim it as my uniform! For a month, at least.


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