Michael Young had a breakout game and Nelson Cruz does what Nelson Cruz does in October, sending the Texas Rangers back to the World Series.
Texas clinched the return trip with a 15-5 victory over the Detroit Tigers in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series on Saturday night. This year, they’ll face either St. Louis or Milwaukee in the World Series, which begins Wednesday in the National League city.
Young led the Rangers with a 3-for-6 game that included a home run, two doubles and five RBI.
That’s not the kind of performance that’s easily outdone, but that’s the postseason Cruz — the new Mr. October — is having. He was named ALCS MVP, hitting .364 with an 8-for-22 streak in which every hit went for extra bases. Only Hideki Matsui of the 2004 New York Yankees had more extra-base hits in a postseason series. Cruz was, as they say, overdue after a 1-for-15 division series against Tampa Bay.
“It was only a matter of time,” Mike Napoli said. “We were like, ‘What’s wrong with Nellie? He hasn’t hit a home run yet.’ But he did it [in the ALCS opener] and there he went.”
“It was fun to watch,” Josh Hamilton, the 2010 MVP for the Rangers in the ALCS. “It’s one thing to be in the stands. But when you’re down here on the field with him, you can see the intensity, see the focus. To watch him do that was incredible. … When Nellie gets in those streaks, they can come at any time. That’s what the funnest part is. Every at-bat when he’s up there, it could be the at-bat where he hits another one.”
The best part about a return trip by the Rangers — the first team to win consecutive pennants since the Yankees (1998-01) — to the World Series? Maybe there’ll be another tender first-pitch moment between Cooper Stone, the 6-year-old whose father died in a fall as he tried to catch a baseball at the ballpark this summer, and Hamilton.