It hasn’t been an easy 2018 for Texas Rangers fans. The team finished with a miserable 67-95 record. They fired their manager with ten days left in their season. Now they have to watch other teams, including their in-state rival, make playoff memories while they simply wait until the Hot Stove warms up in November and December.
Well, Rangers fans, Dallas Sports Fanatic is here for you. This month we will be breaking down notable events in Rangers postseason history and bringing back some of those fond memories of the 2010 and 2011 runs to the team’s only appearances in the World Series.
On October 10th, 2011: The Rangers defeated the Detroit Tigers 7-3 to go up 2-0 in the American League Championship Series. To add a little zest, the winning runs came on a walk-off grand slam by Nelson Cruz in the 11th inning.
One of the bummers of postseason baseball is that a lot of the non-Los Angeles/New York/Boston teams will have to play playoff games during the day on weekdays. This was the case for this game as it started at 3:20 DFW time on a Monday! Still, over 51,000 Rangers fans filled the Ballpark and waited four hours and 25 minutes to see the epic shot off of Cruz’s bat into the Arlington sky.
This was one of Cruz’s best games in a Rangers uniform as the slugger went 3-5 with a double in addition to two insanely clutch home runs. The video above references how his first homer came off Tigers starter Max Scherzer to lead off the bottom of the 7th and tie the game at 3. It was one of the rare shots to the middle seating deck in left field at then-named Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Cruz was slotted 7th in a loaded Rangers lineup and he definitely made his case for making manager Ron Washington to move him up in future games.
There were some great home-wins and celebrations throughout the 2010 and 2011 postseasons for that Rangers core. Notable examples being the Neftali Feliz and Bengie Molina bouncing hug after Texas won the 2010 ALCS or maybe Michael Young catching a lazy pop fly to seal the 2011 ALCS, but a walk-off win on a grand slam by Cruz has to be right up there.
Winning this game and going up in the series 2-0 was crucial for Texas as splitting the first two home games of a series with home-field advantage would not have been great with the 2-3-2 format of seven game MLB playoff series. The Tigers would take two out of three games in Detroit before the Rangers would go on to clinch in blowout fashion in game six back in Arlington.
Even if Cruz didn’t slam this one out of the park, the Rangers probably would have won this game some other way since Cruz was up at the plate with the bases loaded and nobody out after Michael Young, Adrian Beltre and Mike Napoli had all singled prior to Nellie stepping up to the plate. A sacrifice fly isn’t as memorable as a towering grand slam, right? One kind of sticks with you over the years more than the other.
All Rangers fans are glad this game went down the way it did and hopefully it isn’t another seven years until similar postseason magic is experienced in Arlington.
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