ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Rangers are going to the World Series, folks. They beat the Yankees, 6-1, in Game 6 of the ALCS in front of an excited home crowd at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Some quick thoughts:
* The confetti flew and the Rangers went into a huge mob around the mound after winning the game. Players hugged and put on AL champion T-shirts. Nolan Ryan hugged Chuck Greenberg and others and manager Ron Washington gave bench coach Jackie Moore a bear hug.
* Perhaps the biggest inning in franchise history was the fifth. The Rangers scored four times to turn a 1-1 game into a 5-1 lead. And though he didn't have an RBI, Josh Hamilton, the ALCS MVP, played a critical role. The Yankees decided to intentionally walk him for the second time in the game with two outs to put runners on the corners and pitch to Vladimir Guerrero. It worked in the third inning, as Guerrero popped up. But in the fifth, Guerrero smacked a long double to center to score Mitch Moreland and Hamilton.
* And with the crowd of 50,000-plus still buzzing, Nelson Cruz faced reliever David Robertson. Cruz saw five straight curve balls and was behind in the count 1-2 when Roberston tried to throw a fastball. That was a mistake. Cruz blasted it to the left-center seats. Longtime Rangers PA announcer Chuck Morgan started his usual home run music (from "The Natural") even before the ball hit the fans. The crowd went crazy and the Rangers had a 5-1 lead. All four runs were scored with two outs.
* Colby Lewis sure did a great Cliff Lee impersonation. He got strikeouts (seven of them, including four in the seventh and eighth innings) and worked quickly and efficiently. The Yankees got just three hits off of him and didn't really threaten to have a big inning. He had good fastball command and after struggling to find his off-speed stuff in the early innings, found a reliable curve ball and slider. That got him in a groove. He ended up giving the club eight innings. He hadn't pitched that many innings since June 19, when he got a complete-game victory in Houston.
* Elvis Andrus made sure to extend his postseason hitting streak right away on Friday, belting a double to left-center to start the bottom of the first. He went to third on Hamilton's single and scored on Guerrero's ground ball to second. Hamilton was running on Guerrero's ground ball, eliminating any chance at a double play (though I don't think the Yankees could have turned the DP anyway because the ball was hit slowly).
* A controversial hit by pitch in the fifth inning allowed the Yankees to tie the score. The ball bounced in the dirt and hit Nick Swisher in the shin. Swisher even reacted and catcher Bengie Molina saw it and pointed to him. But home plate umpire Brian Gorman was blocked from seeing it and called a wild pitch, allowing Alex Rodriguez to score.
* The Yankees decided not to let Josh Hamilton beat them Friday. They intentionally walked him three times after he singled in the first. That strategy had mixed results, as we discussed earlier. They were 1-for-3, which was not the percentage they wanted. They tried to pitch around him and they intentionally walked him twice to get to Vladimir Guerrero with two outs. But Hamilton is so scary that simply intentionally walking him was difficult for Hughes in the third inning. The first pitch went off Jorge Posada's glove and to the back stop, allowing Mitch Moreland to go to third. With Hamilton at first and Moreland at third, Vladimir Guerrero popped out, so the decision to walk Hamilton worked out. In the fifth inning, Hamilton was walked again to put runners at the corners for Guerrero
* But the aggressive play of running the bases helped the Rangers get that first-inning run as Hamilton was running to avoid the DP. It's part of the versatility of this lineup, something that manager Ron Washington has preached and this team has fully embraced this season.
* Andrus has now hit safely in all 11 postseason games for the Rangers in 2010, matching fourth-longest hitting streak ever to begin a postseason career. He showed off his glove in the second inning, snagging an A-Rod liner that looked like it might go over his head. Andrus has had a tremendous postseason so far.
* Bengie Molina continued to make an impact on this series (and postseason, for that matter) by throwing out Curtis Granderson on a stolen base attempt with two outs in the first inning. With Alex Rodriguez batting, Granderson headed toward second and actually beat the throw to the bag. But his foot was above the bag when Ian Kinsler tagged him. Granderson argued, but replays showed second base umpire Tony Randazzo got the call right. Yankees were getting aggressive, hoping to put Granderson in scoring position with two outs and Rodriguez at the plate. It didn't work.
* Ian Kinsler flashed his glove work, backhanding a quick hopping grounder in the fourth hit by the dangerous Robinson Cano and starting a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning.
* Neftali Feliz came in to close the game out. It wasn't a save situation, but the young closer got to be on the mound for his second clinching game (he saved the win in Oakland that gave the Rangers the AL West).
* We had a four-minute rain delay at the start of the game. A quick shower came through and the tarp was on the field just after the National Anthem was finished. But the tarp was off the field in a matter of minutes and the game started quickly.