ST. LOUIS -- If you're the Rangers, it can be easy to think -- at least in the back of your mind -- that if you don't win Game 6 tonight, you can still win the World Series in Game 7.
Rangers manager Ron Washington isn't thinking that way. He saw firsthand how that can impact a team when the Oakland A's had a 2-0 lead in the best-of-5 against the New York Yankees in 2001 and lost in five. That was the series with Derek Jeter's memorable flip to the plate in Game 3.
"We were trying to win one game and all Joe was doing was winning one game that he played that day," Washington said. "You could see him. You could see those Yankees. We were trying to win a game, but we knew we had two. We were trying to win one, but if we didn't, that's OK because we got tomorrow. We can't think like that. We know tomorrow is there, but we've got to play for today.
"If you win what's in front of you, it is the series."
Washington said he learned that mindset from watching Joe Torre and the Yankees get the best of the A's in two years that Washington felt, at least on paper, that Oakland had the better team.
"The way they went about their business in clinching situations and in situations when they had their backs against the wall," Washington said. "All I tried to do is keep that same demeanor. Things that I say I know my players are listening. I hear them repeat it, so I know they are getting the message."
Washington said his team is ready and he won't be giving any kind of pregame speech. He'll let them go out and play and see what happens.
"We are a group that understands where we are and what's at stake and what we have to do, but we know we have the ability to do it," Washington said. "One thing you can't do it get anxious. You can't try to do things you haven't done before because you'll miss out on what's in front of you. We always want to be aware of what's in front of us. There's nothing that can happen in a game that we haven't experienced. That's what it is."