ARLINGTON – Rangers hitters held a meeting before Game 6 to go over the Tigers’ pitching one more time. Infielder Michael Young spoke up.
“We’re due for a blowout,” Young told his teammates. “Let’s put up a 10-spot.”
Thus, the captain spoke, and then he led the way. The Rangers delivered the blowout that Young called for and they are back in the World Series for the second consecutive year after a 15-5 victory over the Tigers in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series on Saturday night.
The Rangers trailed, 2-0, against Tigers starter Max Scherzer going into the bottom of the third before putting together a nine-run inning. Young delivered a two-run double at the start of the rally and finished it off with another two-run double.
He also had a seventh-inning home run and caught Brandon Inge’s popup for the final out that set off another huge celebration among the players while 51,508 fans stood and cheered their conquering heroes at the Ballpark in Arlington.
“This is great, especially being able to do it in front of our fans,” Young said as he clutched the American League trophy. Young entered the game hitting .162 with no home runs and two RBIs in the playoffs.
“He came through when we needed it,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “And it seemed as if he saved his best for last. As far as I’m concerned, tonight he put us on his back.”
As Young and his teammates celebrated with ginger ale out on the field, another banner was raised on the center-field office building, proclaiming the Rangers as the 2011 American League champions.
“It’s an amazing moment and we’re not done yet,” catcher Mike Napoli said before heading into the clubhouse for the champagne-spraying portion of the program.
“This is everything I imagined,” said third baseman Adrian Beltre, who is going to play in the World Series for the first time in his 13-year career. “This is why I came here, but we’re not done. We won’t be done until we win four more games.”
The Rangers, who lost to the Giants in the World Series last year, are the first American League champions to repeat since the Yankees won four straight pennants from 1998-2001. The last non-Yankees team to repeat in the AL was the Blue Jays in 1992-93.
The Rangers now await the winner of the National League Championship Series between the Cardinals and the Brewers. The Cardinals hold a 3-2 lead with Game 6 scheduled for Sunday in Milwaukee.
Regardless of who wins, the World Series will open Wednesday night in the NL city. Games 3-4-5 are scheduled at the Ballpark in Arlington for Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
“It’s incredible … this is incredible,” second baseman Ian Kinsler said. “This was a huge series and a huge win. We defended our title and couldn’t be in a better spot. It’s the ultimate goal of our sport and now we have another chance at it.”
Nelson Cruz finished the Rangers’ scoring with a two-run home run in the seventh. That gave him six home runs and 13 RBIs in the series, setting new Major League records for both in a single postseason series.
“He has been awesome,” outfielder Josh Hamilton said. “He stepped up for us at the right time. He just does it on the field and at the plate. You know how he is when he gets on a roll.”
The Rangers remain on a roll, having won 17 of their last 21 games going back to the regular season. The 15 runs scored tied for the most in a clinching game in Major League history. The Braves beat the Cardinals, 15-0, in Game 7 of the 1996 NLCS.
“They proved in this series that they were the team that should represent the American League in the World Series,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “The Texas Rangers beat us and they are definitely the team that should represent the American League in the World Series.”