Very few, if any, saw this coming.
Yeah, the Texas Rangers are a damn good team. But c'mon, this is the Yankees we're talking about. They've been penciled into the 2010 World Series since they won the 2009 Series.
But, as they say, that's why they play the games.
To the uneducated observer, it would appear as though the Rangers were the perennial playoff team and the Yankees were the team that just won its first ever playoff series.
The fact that the opposite is true only makes what the Rangers accomplished that much more impressive.
First, let's review my series preview (as you may recall, I predicted the Rangers in six).
I mentioned two key factors that would play a major impact in the outcome of the series: the rest factor and the star factor.
Boy did they ever.
First, concerning the rest factor, I noted that there was a legitimate possibility that the Yankees could come out flat, allowing the Rangers to jump out to an early lead at home. Well, they did, but unfortunately for the Rangers, the bullpen couldn't hold their 5-0 lead and the Yankees stole Game 1. Still, the Rangers proved to themselves that they could beat the Yankees. And that was all they needed.
Then, the stars. This is where the series really took shape. Bottom line: the Rangers stars were up to the task and the Yankees stars faltered.
I'll recap this with a review of the key players for each team:
Elvis Andrus - .333/.379/.407, 2 RBI, 4 R, 4 SB, 2 BB/3 K
Nelson Cruz - .350/.435/.800, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 6 R, 3 BB/6 K
Vlad Guerrero - .269/.269/.346, 3 RBI, 2 R, 0 BB/8 K
*Josh Hamilton - .350/.536/1.000, 4 HR, 7 RBI, 6 R, 4 SB, 8 BB/4 K
Ian Kinsler - .250/.333/.400, 3 RBI, 1 R, 2 SB, 3 BB/3 K
Michael Young - .333/.357/.444, 4 RBI, 3 R, 1 BB/7 K
Cliff Lee - 8 IP, 1-0, 13 K/1 BB, 2 H, 0 ER, 0.375 WHIP, 0.00 ERA
Robinson Cano - .348/.375/.913, 4 HR, 5 RBI, 5 R, 1 BB/3 K
Derek Jeter - .231/.286/.423, 1 RBI, 2 R, 2 BB/7 K
Alex Rodriguez - .190/.320/.286, 2 RBI, 4 R, 1 SB, 3 BB/4 K
#Mark Texeira - .000/.176/.000, 1 R, 3 BB/4 K
Phil Hughes - 8.2 IP, 0-2, 6 K/7 BB, 14 H, 11 ER, 2.423 WHIP, 11.42 ERA
Andy Pettitte - 7 IP, 0-1, 5 K/0 BB, 5 H, 2 ER, 0.714 WHIP, 2.57 ERA
CC Sabathia - 10 IP, 1-0, 10 K/4 BB, 17 H, 7 ER, 2.100 WHIP, 6.30 ERA
*Named ALCS MVP
#Injured in Game 4
As you can see, the Rangers came out and got the job done. Some—Cruz, Hamilton and Lee—were nearly unstoppable, while the rest held their ground and came up big when it was most crucial.
The Yankees, on the other hand, got almost nothing out of their stars. Cano was spectacular, but he got no help from the rest of the lineup and the only game the Yankees got good starting pitching (Pettitte in Game 3), they couldn't muster up enough run support to pull out the victory.
Before I wrap this up, I want to note the stellar performances by Colby Lewis. Lewis—who pitched in Japan the last two years—was dominant against a potent Yankees lineup, shutting them down to the tune of 9 hits and three earned runs over 13.2 innings, posting a 1.98 ERA and a 1.098 WHIP in two victories.
Lewis' ace-like performances took the pressure off Cliff Lee and the offense, and quite possibly was the key player in the series.
Now, the Rangers will rest, fine tune and prepare themselves for the biggest stage they've ever seen. Their opponent in the World Series, be it the Giants or the Phillies, will have their hands full with this group. It should be quite the spectacular sight to see the dominant rotation that comes out of the NL face off against this group of violent and deadly bats.
Baseball fans, we're in for a treat.