The Rangers players who played in the 2011 World Series are back for playoffs again. Derek Holland, Colby Lewis, Elvis Andrus, Adrian Beltre, Mitch Moreland, Mike Napoli, Leonys Martin, and Josh Hamilton are the only players left from then, but they are ready for action once again. The Rangers had already clinched the wild card spot after beating the Angels on Thursday 5-3, but they clinched the American West title by beating the Angels today 9-2, going from worst to first in the division. Wild card winners for the American League are the New York Yankees and the Houston Astros. Wildcard teams for the National League are the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Chicago Cubs.
The Rangers started off in last place at the beginning of May, but after July 20, the Rangers began climbing over the other teams, finishing up 87-72 in the division. The Toronto Bluejays finished first in the American East division with a standing of 93-70. The Rangers and Bluejays will lead off the Division Series playing against each other at Toronto this Thursday, October 8. Houston and New York will play on Tuesday, the winner will play the Royals in Kansas City on Thursday as well.
Along with the 2011 players and other Ranger team members, pitcher Ace Cole Hamels did his part by shutting the Angels down after allowing Pujols a home run. Hamels then threw the complete nine innings, only allowing three hits.
“He pretty much had the game in hand” said first baseman Mitch Moreland.
“Beltre came up with the big home run to give us the lead and you call almost tell that it was shutdown time for Cole. He proved it. He proved why we went out and got him and why he’s a number one guy. I’m glad he’s number one.”
Hamels weighed in as well. “This is why we train” said Hamels.
“I know I wasn’t in this league but this is how I play the game of baseball, it’s too win. It’s to win on October and November. It’s a testament to these guys to want me and for me to be able to go out and play as hard as I can.”
Andrus and Beltre also each had a part in the win today – Beltre hit a two-run home run putting the team ahead in the fifth inning, then the team dominated the seventh inning with six runs; Andrus also hit a two-run double in that inning.
As you can see from the videos below the Rangers were excited to win the title and celebrated on-field with ginger ale and champagne in the locker room. This is the sixth division title for the Ranger franchise, and the seventh time for the team to reach the playoffs. Hamels was a July addition to the team after pitchers Darvosh and Holland had injuries earlier in the season.
Can the team make it through the playoffs into the series again? The team has made the playoffs four times in the last six seasons and averaged 92 wins from 2010-2013 and played in two World Series. Second baseman Rougned Odor is confident the team can win this year.
“Our goal for the year was to win the division and we did. Now we’re going to go to the playoffs and we’re going to win those too. I’m so proud of my team, we’ve been working so hard all year.”
Below is the complete Gary Patterson press conference after the win today.
Ranger fans, do you think the Texas Rangers can win the World Series this time? Please feel free to comment below.
[Lead Image: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images Sport; Other Images Courtesy Brandon Wade/Getty Images Sport]