Today is the first day of the offseason.
The Rangers fell short. They were up 3 games to 2, and headed back to St. Louis needing to win just one of the remaining two games to be the World Champs. They had a 3 run lead in Game 6 with 6 outs to go. They were 1 strike away from victory twice in Game 6. And they couldn't close the deal.
Its frustrating. Its disappointing. But it doesn't change the fact 2011 was a great year for the Rangers.
T.R. Sullivan's game story has quotes from the players about coming so close, only to fall short, that includes Adrian Beltre saying that the team lost the Series on Thursday, not yesterday.
Jeff Wilson says in his game story that the Rangers are "disappointed but proud," which sums it up pretty well.
Richard Durrett has his final "Rapid Reaction" of 2011.
Evan Grant writes that the bullpen cost the Rangers a shot at the 2011 title.
Jeff Caplan examines the 2 run, 0 hit fifth inning that was one of the tipping points last night.
There are two Ron Washington decisions the past two days that really stick in my mind. The first was leaving Derek Holland in to face Allen Craig in the 8th inning of Game 6, rather than going to a rested and ready Mike Adams. The second was walking David Freese intentionally in the fifth with runners on second and third and two outs, meaning that Scott Feldman, who was struggling with his command, had no margin of error when he was facing Yadier Molina.
A decision that was surprisingly controversial was starting Matt Harrison in Game 7 rather than Derek Holland. A lot of folks seemed to think that was a mistake, and Chris Haft of MLB.com says that's a decision that has opened Ron Washington up to criticism.
While a lot of folks are acting like Holland was clearly the superior pitcher, the facts don't really bear that out. Harrison had a 3.39 ERA in 2011, versus 3.95 for Holland. Harrison had a 3.52 FIP in 2011, versus a 3.94 FIP for Holland. And while Holland had been ahead of Harrison in the rotation in the first two postseason series, Holland's struggles in the first two rounds -- a 5.27 ERA and early exits in his starts, compared to a 4.22 ERA for Harrison -- had resulted in the two being flip-flopped for the World Series.
Several people on Twitter insisted that in a situation you have to go with the "hot hand," but I don't know that there's really anything to that argument. I don't know that the fact that Holland was great in his last start means he had to go in Game 7 instead of Harrison.
If Washington had started Holland instead of Harrison in Game 7, that would have been fine. I'm also fine with him starting Harrison over Holland. The bottom line is that I don't know that one of them is clearly better than the other, which is why I don't think there's any reason for Wash to be ripped over this move.
Gil Lebreton writes that the pitching let the Rangers down yesterday. And while that's true, the offense scored two runs, and went scoreless over the final 26 outs of the game.
Durrett has a column in which he says this loss is going to hurt for a long time.
While this year's loss was more emotion, Wash said after the game that he was proud of his club and that he considers them champions.
It looked like Nelson Cruz was going to have his ninth homer of the postseason last night, which would have set a single season postseason record, but Allen Craig robbed him at the wall.
Meanwhile, C.J. Wilson is a free agent. Caplan has a story that includes questions and answers from Wilson yesterday about his impending free agency.
There's a vocal minority among fans who seem like they can't wait until Wilson is gone, who act like he's one of the problems with this team rather than one of the big reasons why they are the two-time A.L. champs. Wilson may leave in the next few months. He may get paid elsewhere more than the Rangers think he's worth. But subtracting him from the team doesn't make the team better.
T.R. Sullivan says that the Rangers are well positioned to make another run in 2012, with every core player other than Wilson under team control for next year.
On the injury front, Josh Hamilton will be examined next week in Philadelphia by the doctor who performed the surgery on his abdominal muscle in 2009.
Mike Gonzalez tore the meniscus in his knee late in the season, but pitched through it in the playoffs, until it gave way last night. Gonzalez, a free agent this offseason, will have surgery next week, and says that he'd like to come back to Texas next year.
Randy Galloway has a column that makes it clear that he doesn't think Rangers fans should enjoy baseball anymore. He calls the team the "Gag Gang," says that this sort of loss scars a franchise, and suggests that the Rangers should be held to the same unrealistic standards that the Cowboys are, where anything short of a championship should be considered a failure.
Another writer made a similar comment last night on Twitter about how the Rangers should be held to those standards...my feeling on that is that, if you as a fan are going to view anything other than winning it all to be failure, you should probably find something new to occupy your time.