Rolling Rangers eye different finish

By Stephen Hawkins
Associated Press / October 17, 2011

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ARLINGTON, Texas - The Rangers are back in the World Series with a boom and a purpose. Just getting there isn’t enough this time.

“We’ve got that experience,’’ Ian Kinsler said. “It wasn’t a very good one, but we have the experience.’’

Texas waited a half-century to play in its first World Series before losing to San Francisco in five games last year. The Rangers quickly have another chance to win their first championship.

The Rangers won their second consecutive American League pennant after an unprecedented playoff power display by Nelson Cruz, who had six home runs and 13 RBIs in the six-game AL championship series. They beat Detroit, 15-5, in the clincher on Saturday.

“It was a group commitment. We weren’t very happy with the results [against the Giants], and we certainly knew that we were a better team than we showed,’’ manager Ron Washington said before relaying what Michael Young told teammates after last year’s World Series.

The message from the team’s longest-tenured player: “Enjoy your winter, but don’t turn it off mentally. We’re capable of getting back.’’

And they were, even without Cliff Lee.

The franchise that began as the expansion Washington Senators in 1961, then moved to Texas in 1972 with Ted Williams as its manager, opens another World Series on Wednesday night in St. Louis.

The World Series returns deep into the heart of Texas with Game 3 on Saturday night.

Texas is the AL’s first consecutive pennant winner since the New York Yankees won four in a row from 1998-2001.

“We know what we’re capable of. Last year, we knew we had a group of guys and knew we could go on a run like this. And here we are again,’’ said Young, in his 11th season with Texas.

“Nothing’s going to sneak up on us in the World Series. We know that the environment is going to be like. We’ll be ready for it.’’

Before last year, the Rangers had won only one playoff game. They had never won a playoff series, getting knocked out of the postseason by the Yankees in 1996, 1998, and 1999. Now they will try to be the first team since the Oakland Athletics in 1989 to win the World Series a year after losing it.

“That’s what we set out to do in spring training. We were three games shy last season,’’ pitcher Colby Lewis said.

Lee spent the second half of last season in Texas after being acquired in a trade. But the ace lefthander turned down a $138 million, six-year offer to stay and instead returned to Philadelphia in free agency.

The Phillies won a franchise-record 102 games and their fifth consecutive NL East title. They didn’t make it out of the first round of the playoffs, though.

Texas set its own franchise record by winning 96 games, then won a division series rematch with Tampa Bay before facing the Tigers.

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