ST PETERSBURG, FL - OCTOBER 12: Ian Kinsler #5 of the Texas Rangers hits a 2 run HR in the ninth inning off Joaquin Benoit #53 during Game 5 of the ALDS against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field on October 12, 2010 in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
All my favorite Rangers highlights come from recent years, for obvious reasons...the last few years have been the best time in history to be a fan of the Texas Rangers.
While there are several to choose from, my specific favorite highlight came from Game 5 of the ALDS in 2010. For those of you who have amnesia, the Rangers won the first two games of the ALDS against the Tampa Bay Rays, and came back to Texas needing to win just one more to win their first ever playoff series and move on to the ALCS.
But they lost Game 3 at home. And they lost Game 4 at home. And suddenly, there was a Game 5, in Tampa, winner-take-all. The Rangers had Cliff Lee pitching, and this situation was the reason why they traded Justin Smoak and Blake Beavan to get him. But still...it was David Price going for Tampa, and anything can happen in one game. The mood here at LSB was dark, and Chuck Greenberg even had to come here and do a FanPost encouraging fans to keep the faith.
The Rangers set the tempo early, with Elvis Andrus singling to lead off the game, stealing second, and then scoring from second on a Josh Hamilton ground out to the pitcher. Tampa tied it in the third, but the Rangers took the lead back in the fourth when Nelson Cruz scored after stealing third base and seeing the catcher's throw head into left field. Ian Kinsler brought home another run in the sixth on a ground out, and Cliff Lee was doing Cliff Lee things, so I felt pretty good about a 3-1 lead.
But anything can happen. The bullpen hadn't inspired a ton of confidence in the previous couple of games. So I was nervous.
Then, in the top of the 9th inning, Nelson Cruz led off the inning with a single off of Rafael Soriano, bringing Ian Kinsler to the plate. After a first pitch strike, Kinsler ripped Soriano's next offering deep into left field for a two run home run, turning a tight, nerve-wracking 3-1 lead into a comfortable 5-1 lead. That was the moment when I finally relaxed, when I knew that the Rangers weren't going to blow it, weren't going to continue to be the team that had never won a playoff series, when I knew the Rangers were going to win.
There've been a lot of positive memories since that home run, a lot of important and critical hits, a lot more playoff games won. But for me, that was my favorite Texas Rangers highlight...