Tip your hat to the Rangers
Chris Ruddick, MLB Editor
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
Why were the Texas Rangers so overlooked coming into this postseason? You may have had people picking them to win a series, but, honestly, raise your hand if you had them going to the World Series.
And why was that?
Was it their awful postseason history? Was it the fact that everyone thought the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays were that good? Heck, even if people didn't think it would be one of the American League East teams taking home a pennant, they thought it would be Minnesota. If you had to rank the AL playoff teams at the start of the postseason, Texas was easily ranked fourth of the four.
Again, why was that?
Josh Hamilton, the series MVP, set the tone in the first inning of Game 1 and never stopped hitting.
Well, looking back now, I have no idea.
Perhaps it was the fact that the Rangers looked as ordinary as anyone coming into the postseason and didn't finish the regular season very strong.
There were a few good reasons why the Rangers weren't as sharp in September as they had been the previous five months.
For one, they played 24 games without the American League's likely MVP in Josh Hamilton, and two, they had the AL West essentially won sometime in mid- August. Let's be honest, they really haven't had to put their pedal to the metal since the All-Star break. When they had to turn it on they did; see their three-game sweep of the Yankees from September 10-12.
Speaking of Hamilton, the series MVP, how good was he? Hamilton set the tone right off the bat with a three-run home run off CC Sabathia in the first inning of Game 1 and never stopped hitting. It got to the point in Game 6 that the Yankees just walked him rather than having him hurt them even more.
I know Yankee Stadium serenaded Robinson Cano with MVP chants, but even he had to be embarrassed hearing that while Hamilton was in the building.
Everyone overlooked the Rangers and now they are the last ones laughing.
They hit the ball a ton, their bullpen is phenomenal, and they run the bases better and as aggressively as any team I have seen in some time. And, oh yeah, they have this guy named Cliff Lee.
Lee may have been the reason the Rangers won their first-ever playoff series with two spectacular performances against the Rays in the ALDS, but it was Colby Lewis who was the reason they will be making their first World Series appearance.
Of course, Lee was terrific in this series too, with his magnificent effort in Game 3, but I expected that. However, if you would have told me before this series started that Colby Lewis would shut down the Yankees once, let alone twice, I would have told you that you were nuts.
The dude was pitching in Japan the last few years because he couldn't get anyone out in the majors, now here he is dominating the best lineup money could buy. You have to be kidding me.
I think it was me who joked on twitter last week that after the Yankees' thrilling come-from-behind win in Game 1 that there was nobody I would rather want on the hill than Colby Lewis with my season on the line. I may have also mentioned that I wouldn't start Colby Lewis in a Lewis Family Reunion softball game, let alone Game 2 of the ALCS.
Well, my bashing of Colby Lewis goes right up there with me picking Dave Trembley and A.J. Hinch as my Managers of the Year. He shut me up, that is for sure.
By the way, how long ago does that Game 1 meltdown by the Rangers seem now?
Lewis was marvelous, Hamilton played like an MVP and now the great Lee is ready to open the World Series on full rest for the Rangers on Wednesday in either Philadelphia, which would be absolutely sick, or in San Francisco in what has to be the worst-case scenario for Fox executives.
Bottom line is the Rangers were just better than the Yankees in this series.
And we all should have seen it coming.