ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- It turns out that postseason experience can also matter in a clubhouse celebration.
The Rangers, many of them spraying cheap champagne, Coors Light, Bud Light and ginger ale for the fifth time in the last two seasons, got creative in how they toasted a second straight ALDS in the same clubhouse at Tropicana Field as their first one less than a year ago.
Players were soaking everyone in sight in the visiting clubhouse, hiding behind media members to jump out and drench unsuspecting teammates.
"It stings, it's good," said Michael Young, wearing goggles as teammates continued to spray him constantly as he talked to the media. "It never gets old. It gets better every single time. It’s a team effort. Every day someone new steps up. Today it was Adrian Beltre. He had a monster game. Next time it will be someone else."
That was the theme as players talked to the media in between champagne showers. The Rangers had various players at critical times step up and make contributions. On Tuesday, Beltre went crazy, hitting three home runs. He's the sixth player in big league history to do that in a postseason game and the first to do it in the ALDS. The last to do it was Adam Kennedy in the 2002 ALCS for the Angels. Beltre joins some elite company. Babe Ruth did it twice in the World Series. Reggie Jackson did it in the Game 6 of the 1977 World Series. Hall of Famer George Brett also did it in the 1978 ALCS.
"Today in batting practice I felt a lot better," Beltre said. "It happens today I was able to put a good swing on pitches over the plate and connect good, put a good swing on it."
The Rangers don't yet know who they will play in the ALCS. If the Tigers win tonight or in a possible Game 5 on Thursday, the series will start in Arlington on Saturday. If the Yankees win the series, it will start in Yankee Stadium on Saturday.
The players collected ginger ale bottles and waited until Beltre got in the clubhouse after doing TV interviews and dumped all kinds of liquid on him. Pitching coach Mike Maddux lured manager Ron Washington into the center of the room and nearly the entire team got him with the cocktail. Most of the front office members also didn't get out of the room without a good soak.
Rangers CEO Nolan Ryan, wearing a coat and tie, didn't enter the clubhouse. He enjoyed a private moment with the front office team and talked about the Rangers staying focused on the ultimate goal.
"Last year, it was the first time experience for us in 10 years," Ryan said. "It was a totally different ballclub that was in the '90s. It was a young ballclub. There was a lot of unknowns and certainty. They showed their character last year getting to the World Series and they’ve shown it this year, too."
"I think they look at this as a three-step process," Ryan said. "I really feel like they’ve got the first of it accomplished and they’ll start focusing on whomever it is we’ll play on Saturday."