Rangers Advance to the American League Championship Series for 2nd Straight Year
Before the 2011 season began many so called experts pegged the Rangers as one year wonders who would be unable to succeed in the playoffs without Cliff Lee.
Apparently they simply didn't know just how deep and talented this Rangers team really is.
The Rangers are heading back to the American League Championship Series after winning three straight following a game one loss with staff ace CJ Wilson on the hill.
They're going to the ALCS because Derek Holland grinded through game two keeping Texas close enough to stage a comeback.
They're going back because Colby Lewis returned to the postseason form that carried the Rangers last season.
They're going back because Matt Harrison shut down the Rays through five innings before handing it off to the bullpen who finished off the series in dominating fashion.
Picking up on a theme here?
The Rangers are going back to the ALCS because they outpitched the Tampa Bay Rays who many have argued had the best pitching staff in the American League playoffs.
What was striking though about this game for the Rangers was what appears to be a killer instinct that has developed over the course of the past two seasons.
Many athletes will tell you one of the hardest things to do is close out a series, especially on the road, and that was something the Rangers struggled with last year as it took three tries to eliminate the Rays and two tries to eliminate the Yankees.
This time the Rangers controlled the game from literally the first batter through the 27th out, putting their collective feet on the throat of the Rays and closed out the series in four games.
Much has been said, especially here at LTR, about how huge the run to the World Series last season was in the development of a perennial contender, but developing that killer instinct is always the last thing for a young club like the Rangers.
I for one could care less who the Rangers play next, but I wouldn't mind at all for the Yankees to shift that series back to New York for game five.
The Rangers next game will be Saturday night at either Rangers Ballpark in Arlington or Yankee Stadium, for now Texas can enjoy the moment, sit back and wait out the outcome of the other AL Division Series.
That in itself is a nice turnaround from a year ago.