In ALCS Game 6, Texas Rangers beat New York Yankees to clinch first World Series berth

By Adam Kilgore
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, October 23, 2010; 1:04 AM

ARLINGTON, TEX. - The difference in pedigree between the Texas Rangers and New York Yankees was apparent from the first pitch of the American League Championship Series. Moments before the TBS broadcast began the night of Game 1, in an effort to incite fans before a national audience, the public address announcer bellowed: "Get your antlers up! It's rally towel-waving time in Texas!" Minutes later, to the plate strutted Yankees leadoff hitter Derek Jeter, the all-time leader in postseason hits and games played.

Who, then, would have predicted what unfolded over the next week and ended Friday night? The Rangers dominated the series from the outset and, aside from two blips, did not relinquish control until they polished off the Yankees with a 6-1 victory in Game 6 before a frenzied crowd of 51,404 at Rangers Ballpark. The team once called the Evil Empire will take its Mystique and Aura back to New York for the winter. The franchise once known as the Washington Senators, for the first time, will go to the World Series.

"People here have been waiting 39 years to fall in love," Rangers owner Chuck Greenberg said. "But it happened."

At 10:09 p.m. Central time, when Alex Rodriguez watched Neftali Feliz's curveball for strike three, the Rangers streamed from the dugout and pig-piled by the mound as red, white and blue confetti fell and Pat Green's "I Like Texas" blared. They sprayed ginger ale on one another and celebrated both the greatest moment in their history and a fitting ALCS finale. They thrashed the defending champs all week, and Friday night was no different.

Colby Lewis, a member of the Hiroshima Carp this time last year, pitched four no-hit innings and surrendered three hits to the mighty Yankees lineup in eight one-run innings. Vladimir Guerrero's two-run double and Nelson Cruz's two-run home in the fifth inning created the defining rally. The Rangers can fly a flag, leaving the Washington Nationals and the Seattle Mariners as the lone franchises without a pennant.

"I'm telling you," second baseman Ian Kinsler said, "we're going to turn this into a baseball town."

Trace it all the way back, and the story of the 2010 AL champions began in Washington, at the corner of Georgia Avenue and W Street NW, where Griffith Stadium, in 1961, welcomed the second incarnation of the Washington Senators. They lasted 11 seasons before owner Bob Short's incompetence broke so many hearts and forced the team to move here.

The Senators became the Rangers, and before this fall they enjoyed an eccentric and undistinguished history. One of their owners went on to become president of the United States. A home run bounced off Jose Canseco's head. They won precisely one playoff game. Their greatest moment may have been the time Nolan Ryan, as a 46-year-old man, squared off against Robin Ventura, 26, in the middle of the diamond and beat the daylights out of him.

As Ryan, now the team president, watched from behind home plate, all that changed this fall. They have managed to pair the best outfielder (Josh Hamilton) and the best left-handed pitcher (Cliff Lee) on the planet. They have a bedrock third baseman (Michael Young), an electric young shortstop (Elvis Andrus) and an underrated force in left field (Cruz).

When it ended, Hamilton stood on a podium and accepted the series MVP award. Not long ago, his life and career was nearly derailed by a consuming drug addiction. He was, in his words, "a man with no soul." That he will now play in the World Series had not yet sunk in Friday night.

"All throughout the game, I was tearing up," Hamilton said. " 'Is this going to be it tonight?' Thinking about where I was and everything I went through."

In Game 6, the Rangers sent to the mound Lewis, a right-hander who spent part of spring training 2007 with the Nationals, who, under the stewardship of Jim Bowden, released him on the day his son was born. Lewis pitched the past two seasons in Japan.

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