After the final out Saturday night — Brandon Inge’s popup behind first base — Pat Green’s “I Like Texas” blared over the loudspeakers and confetti floated from the top of the stadium. Players flipped their gloves in the air and pulled on T-shirts proclaiming themselves AL champions. Manager Ron Washington stood on a podium and, for the second straight October, accepted the American League championship trophy and hoisted it into the air.
The moment allowed for reflection to last fall, when the Rangers ended their season with a loss to the San Francisco Giants. General Manager Jon Daniels walked through the sullen clubhouse as players sat and digested the loss.
“I had a sense that it was instantaneous,” Daniels said Saturday night, standing on the pitching mound afterward. “They had shifted their focus to next year.”
“Last year, we were so excited and didn’t really know what we were capable of doing when we got to the Series,” team President Nolan Ryan said. “This year, the guys were more focused and more determined. They came away a little disappointed they didn’t. I think that was the driving force to the season we had.”
Their final victory was their most emphatic. After the teams played to a virtual draw for five games, with two of Texas’s three victories coming in extra innings, the Rangers gave no quarter in Game 6. They tacked on runs in the fifth, sixth and seventh, tested the arms of the Tigers’ outfield, used their best relievers and never gave Detroit’s bullpen a break.
“I’m sure some people are going to make fun of us now because of the way this game ended, so that hurts a little bit,” Tigers Manager Jim Leyland said. “I hope that doesn’t happen. I hope that people don’t make light of the Tigers, because it really was a tremendous series.”
The entire Rangers lineup thumped the Tigers’ staff, no one more than cleanup hitter Michael Young, the longest-tenured Rangers player. He ripped a pair of two-RBI doubles in the second inning and smashed a solo homer to dead center in the seventh, giving him five RBI.