One final dominate pitching performance in the ALDS was really all it took for the Rangers to find themselves in the ALCS. Cliff Lee pitched a complete game, struck out 10 and only gave up one earned run to help lead Texas to its first Playoff Series victory ever.
The Rangers used small ball to get an early lead, then more small ball to push the score to 3-1. Ian Kinsler added insurance in the 9th with his 3rd Homer of the Postseason, and the Rangers went on to win 5-1, and win the series 3-2. It was the first time in baseball history that the away team won every game of the series.
The Rangers have home-field advantage in the ALCS, however, and their sights have to be on winning Games 1 and 2 at home, because the Yankees in October are near un-beatable in Yankee Stadium. Cliff Lee will be ready to go in Game 3, the first game in Yankee Stadium, but if the Rangers find themselves in an 0-2 hole, then it might be too little, too late.
Regardless of what happens in the ALCS, however, you have to consider this season a success for the Rangers. The first Division Title in ten years, and the first playoff series victory in franchise history. When you throw all that together with the fact that this team was bankrupt and being threatened by Major League Baseball to get their act together, or the league would seize control of the club six months ago, not to mention the positive drug test for Manager Ron Washington, which led many in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area calling for his job, this season will be as much of a success for this team as whomever wins the World Series, in my opinion. Granted, a trip to the World Series or even a Championship will taste even sweeter for Texas, but they should be really proud of where they are.
Oh, and a nice note from the Rangers celebration, Josh Hamilton (who overcame drug and alcohol addictions to make a comeback to the Majors), who was relatively absent from the Western Division Championship celebration because of all the champagne and such, was doused by his teammates in Ginger Ale. Its kinda silly, but its cute.
By the way, I was 100% correct in my Division Series predictions, and my LCS predictions will come tomorrow, so you will know who makes the World Series a week before anyone else.