For the only franchise in Major League Baseball that hasn't won a playoff series and has but one post-season victory to their name, Saturday's division-clinching 4-3 win in Oakland put this much maligned franchise back into the postseason for the first in 11 years. Consider that Michael Young was 22-year old prospect in the Toronto Blue Jays system when the Rangers last played October baseball in 1999.
That franchise promote the "Red October" but the Rangers have changed more than the color of their uniforms since that time. Fourth-year manager Ron Washington becomes just the second skipper in franchise history to guide Texas to the postseason, this coming after a tumultuous start to the year with his admission to using cocaine. The Rangers entire franchise was up in the air -- up in bankruptcy court -- in August, but team president Nolan Ryan's group was able to stake their claim to the club, eliminating one more distraction.
In the end, closer Neftali Feliz set a new MLB rookie record for saves with 1.1 innings of work to close out the Athletics after Jorge Cantu, a mid-season acquisition from the Florida Marlins, twice put the Rangers ahead in the clinching game with an RBI single and a solo homer in the eighth inning, his first as a Ranger. Cantu, who hadn't driven in a single run with Texas all season, was becoming more than a question mark in terms of earning a spot on the playoff roster. In fact, this tweet by Rangers TV play-by-play voice Josh Lewin on Friday pretty much sums it up:
"seeing jorge cantu knock in a run as a ranger is getting pretty high on my bucket list- somwhere betw visiting australia&jamming w ben folds"
It's a big win for the Rangers because it gives them the spotlight in the hyper-competitive DFW sports market. The Rangers were fortunate to take care of business while the 0-2 Cowboys still have the area not quite eased into the NFL season. For too long the DFW metroplex turns it attention away from the Rangers with the division still up in the air, but the Cowboys slow start has allowed Arlington's original team the chance to shine.
The playoff rotation has been announced, as Cliff Lee, CJ Wilson and Colby Lewis will start Games 1-3 for Texas. The ALDS series will start Oct. 5 in either Tampa Bay or New York.