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Rangers Repeat As AL Champs

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Rangers Celebrate (Charlie Riedel/AP Photo)

Rangers Celebrate (Charlie Riedel/AP Photo)

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By STEPHEN HAWKINS, AP Sports Writer

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) _ Nelson Cruz and the Texas Rangers are headed to their second straight World Series, finishing off the Detroit Tigers with a huge offensive burst to become the American League’s first repeat champion in a decade.

Cruz set a postseason record with his sixth home run of the series, Michael Young hit a pair of two-run doubles in a nine-run third inning, and the Rangers romped to a 15-5 win Saturday night that won the AL pennant in six games.

“It’s very sweet,” said Young, the Rangers’ longest-tenured player, in his 11th season. “We’re happy we’re going to the World Series right now. But we have a lot of work to do. Happy, but not satisfied.”

They’ll open the World Series on Wednesday night at St. Louis or Milwaukee, seeking the first title in the history of a franchise that started play in 1961.

Cruz had 13 RBIs in the series, another postseason record, and was selected MVP.

He was unbelievable,” teammate Adrian Beltre said. “Every moment we needed him, he came through.”

Young, who also homered, had five RBIs in the finale, asked for a trade last winter but wound up staying and helped make sure the World Series will again be deep in the heart of Texas. Even the loss of Cliff Lee, who became a free agent and signed with Philadelphia, didn’t prevent a Rangers repeat.

Young caught Brandon Inge’s game-ending popout in short right field and pumped a right hand into the air signaling “No. 1”
while fireworks and confetti filled the sky, then ran toward the
middle of the field to celebrate with his teammates.

Cruz threw both hands in the air and briefly knelt to a knee in
the outfield before running to the infield for the ginger
ale-spraying celebration to come while a banner was unfurled high
over center field declaring the Rangers 2011 AL champions

With former President George W. Bush seated in the front row
alongside Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan, part of the ownership
group that took over the team last year, Rangers manager Ron
Washington was at the edge of the dugout wildly waving his arms and
shouting encouragement to his players as the big inning unfolded.

All Tigers manager Jim Leyland could do was take off his cap and
scratch his head.

A franchise that began as the expansion Washington Senators and
moved to Texas in 1972 had failed to reach the World Series in its
first 49 seasons. Then the Rangers won their first AL pennant last
year only to lose the Series to the San Francisco Giants in five
games.

“As soon as the season began, we were hungry, we were hungry to
get back,” Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus said.

Texas overcame a 2-0 deficit by sending 14 batters to the plate
against Detroit starter Max Scherzer (0-1) and three relievers in
the highest-scoring postseason inning since 2002.

Alexi Ogando (2-0) pitched two scoreless innings for his second
win in the series as the Rangers became the AL’s first consecutive
pennant winner since the New York Yankees won four in a row from
1998-01.

While Young became only the fourth player in postseason history
with two extra-base hits in the same inning _ first a tying double
into the left-field corner and then one down the right field line
for a 9-2 lead _ every batter in the Texas lineup reached base at
least once before the third out of the third. By the time all the
fireworks was over, the Rangers scored the most runs ever in a
postseason game against the Tigers and the most in any postseason
contest since the Yankees routed Boston 19-8 in Game 3 of the 2004
ALCS.

Also among the sellout crowd of 51,508 was Dirk Nowitzki, MVP of
the NBA finals won by the Dallas Mavericks in June.

Now the Rangers get another chance to bring another championship
to the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and go a step further than last
season.

Young, in his 11th season in Texas, had played in 1,508 career
regular season games before finally getting into the playoffs last
year. He added a huge exclamation point to his already big night
when he led off the seventh with a 416-foot homer to straightaway
center field.
His five RBIs matched the Rangers postseason record set by Cruz
in Game 2.
Last winter, Young had requested a trade after the Rangers
signed Beltre and acquired Mike Napoli, moves that led to Young
becoming primarily a designated hitter and first baseman, a
position he had never played. He had already been a starting second
baseman and an All-Star at shortstop and third base.
Young’s two two-run doubles came in the highest-scoring inning
in a postseason game since the Angels matched a playoff record with
10 runs in the seventh inning of Game 5 during the 2002 ALCS
against Minnesota.

Texas’ big inning started when Andrus drew a one-out walk and
Josh Hamilton blooped an opposite-field single to left. After Young
tied it, Beltre hit a go-ahead single under the leg of Scherzer,
who was gone after consecutive walks to Mike Napoli and Cruz.
Cruz fought back from an 0-2 count for his walk. On a checked
swing on a 2-2 pitch, Scherzer and Leyland both reacted in
disbelief when first base umpire Tim Welke signaled no swing. When
the next pitch was ball four, Cruz flipped his bat away and quickly
clapped his hands.

David Murphy hit a two-run single off Daniel Schlereth, facing
his only batter in his only appearance of the series. Game 4
starter Rick Porcello took over and pinch-hitter Craig Gentry
reached on a fielder’s choice as Murphy beat the throw to second.
Ian Kinsler’s two-run single made it 7-2, and Young’s second double
boosted the margin to 9-2.

When Ryan Perry finally induced Beltre to hit an inning-ending
flyout, fans roared in anticipation of a World Series berth that
wouldn’t be official for five more innings. Most wildly waved white
rally towels, and another behind the Rangers dugout swayed a Texas
state flag back-and-forth high in the air.

Detroit had already avoided elimination twice this postseason,
winning Game 5 of the AL division series at Yankee Stadium and then
extending the ALCS with a 7-5 win at home Thursday.

Derek Holland allowed solo homers to Miguel Cabrera in the first
and Jhonny Peralta in the second as Detroit, seeking its first
Series title since 1984, tried to force a Game 7.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been prouder of a team than I am of
this team,” Leyland said. “They gave everything they had.”

NOTES: Holland, who didn’t make it out of the third inning in
Game 2, gave up four runs and seven hits in 4 2-3 innings. He left
after Austin Jackson’s two-run homer in the fifth.

     (Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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