RANGERS: CHAMPIONS OF AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST
BY: Richard W. Humphrey
About two hours after the Rangers’ 5-3 win Friday night over the Mariners, Oakland beat Los Angeles 3-1 to eliminate the Angels and secure the American League West championship for Texas. In Arlington, most of the Ranger players and coaches, and more than 10,000 fans stayed after the game watching the A’s – Angels in the clubhouse and on the big screen TV in the park as Geo Gonzalez out-pitched Jered Weaver. Gonzalez left in the eighth with a 2-1 lead and men on base. Grant Balfour got out of the trouble, and Andrew Bailey pitched a three-up, three-down ninth to send the Rangers to the playoffs.
When Arlington native Vernon Wells flied out to center to extinguish the Angels possibilities of winning the division, bedlam erupted on the field at the Ballpark in Arlington. Ranger players crowded the field hugging and splashing ginger ale, not champagne in deference to the team’s star, Josh Hamilton. Texas has claimed the West for the second consecutive year and fifth time in team history.
The Rangers will open the playoffs next Friday night. The most likely pairing is in New York as the number three seed, but if they overtake Detroit in the standings, they would then open at home against either the Red Sox or Rays. There is a slim chance they open against Detroit with the team with the better record between the two having the home field advantage.