That felt like baptism by fire last night. We've craved postseason baseball and postseason moments, right? Well that was postseason baseball. The Rangers made it all the way to the World Series last season and I can't recall a more intense inning than the 8th or 9th of last night's game in all of the 2010 run.
The Rangers navigated those uneasy innings after an enormous start from Colby Lewis. Mike Napoli made sure David Price wouldn't be a winner against the Rangers again. And Josh Hamilton did indeed get a big hit at the Trop. Now we are hours away from watching the Rangers with an opportunity to eliminate the Rays for the second consecutive year in their building. Postseason baseball.
There are a ton of links out there as the Rangers -- specifically Colby and Napoli -- are getting a lot of love today. Let's begin:
Richard Durrett breaks down the game that Nolan Ryan called "...probably as stressful a game as I've sat through."
Keith Whitmire writes that it was the Rangers, not the Rays, who came through in the clutch regardless of pre-series narrative.
T.R. Sullivan's game story focuses on the tense Game 3 win with quotes from Ranger players about how the team battled to win to this one. Elvis' heart is still pounding, Beltre's looking for more cushion for the pushin' today, and Face is just having fun out there.
Jeff Wilson's game story runs down how we got from pitching duel, to Colby Lewis unhittable except for courtesy dinger, to Mike Napoli heroics, to pulse-pounding finale.
Behind the DMN paywall, Gerry Fraley writes about Neftali Feliz and Alexi Ogando going with off-speed stuff to wade through the most nerve-racking parts of the game.
NAP-O-LI! NAP-O-LI! NAP-O-LI!:
- (Paywall) Evan Grant borrows a Joe Maddon quote from last night to christen 2011 'The Year of the Napoli.'
- Gil Lebreton writes that the Rangers are on the receiving end of a magical year from their catcher.
- MLB.com's Christina De Nicola, in an understatement, calls Napoli the 'Performer of the Game.'
- Durrett writes that Napoli did a lot of everything to beat the Rays.
- Angels' beat writer Lyle Spencer concludes that, thanks to Napoli and Beltre, the Rangers did pretty alright for themselves after missing out on Cliff Lee in the offseason.
Colby Lewis love:
- Drew Davison writes about Colby Lewis staying perfect in the postseason for the Rangers.
- Sullivan quotes Colby Lewis as saying that October baseball is win or go home so you go out there and blow your lid. (I don't know what that means but it sounds awesome.)
- Jon Paul Morosi has a piece on Colby Lewis seemingly being the coolest customer in a stadium full of stressed out baseball players/fans.
- Durrett writes that Colby has become something similar to a Postseason Sandy Koufax.
- (Paywall) Tim Cowlishaw says Colby isn't a one-year wonder, he's a big-game pitcher.
Looking forward, MLB.com's Jane Lee has a piece on Matt Harrison getting an opportunity to start today after failing to make the postseason roster in 2010.
Fraley notes that Harrison has a chance to join Lewis and Lee in the immortal rank of pitchers who have won a playoff series clincher for the Rangers. A Happy Harry Day that would be, indeed.
Finally, Durrett discusses the night of an unsung hero that shall not be lost in the madness of Game 3 -- Craig Gentry.